On Sunday, CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host and former employee at The New York Times, Brian Stelter interviewed the paper’s executive editor, Dean Banquet, spoon-feeding him questions designed to make the Times look like it is the most relevant publication in town.
Stelter began by counting Trump’s tweets, then said the president called the paper “the failing New York Times” in 53 tweets. The conversation proceeded, as follows:
BRIAN STELTER: Let’s clear it up right away, Dean. Is the Times failing? Why does he say it? What are the facts?
DEAN BAQUET: We’re not failing, at all. In fact, our digital subscriptions are going through the roof. Even print subscriptions are up. We’re a profitable company. We’re a newsroom that’s hiring. I mean, we’re a big, vibrant, important newsroom. I think … I think the reason he goes after us, to be frank, is, I have to say … I think there’s an effort by this administration to minimize the press.
BAQUET: To push, yes. I think that their goal is just evident … is to make it so there’s a handful of independent institutions whose job it is, and we’re among them, to critique the president, to hold the president accountable. The judiciary is in the same batch. I think if you look at the pattern of the president’s tweets, they’re designed to minimize the institutions who are charged with holding him accountable. I think that’s dangerous.
Stelter then tried to push the ‘Trump as dictator’ agenda because Trump criticizes the fake news, liberal media by asking Baquet if he thinks these are authoritarian tendencies, as some outsiders have suggested.
BAQUET: I’m not going to go that far. I’m going to hold onto my newsroom hat of not characterizing things that way. But, I think it’s troublesome. I think it’s dangerous. I think it means that all the institutions, including the press and, particularly, The New York Times, whose job it is to ask hard questions … if he continues doing what he’s doing, he’s attempting to make that harder to do.
It will not be harder to do inside our newsrooms. We’re going to ask hard questions. We’re going to continue to be tough analysts and reporters about the Trump administration and its actions, fair and tough analysts. But I think he clearly wants to convince his supporters that we’re not to be trusted. And he’s wrong.
The final push to sell the New York Times as a thriving, successful paper, because of and in spite of Trump’s postulation, came with this question:
“When he tweets about your company, does that help subscriptions? Is Trump the best thing to ever happen to the Times?”
The New York Times editor quickly agreed, saying, “Trump is the best thing to ever happen to the Times’ subscription strategy. Yes. Every time he tweets it drives subscriptions, wildly.”
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