The New York Times’s (NYT) executive editor framed the Gray Lady as an objective and non-partisan news outlet during an appearance on CNN’s Reliable Sources.
Dean Baquet joined Brian Stelter (himself an alumnus of the NYT) in describing President Donald Trump’s criticisms of the NYT’s credibility as a “dangerous” undermining of an essential civic institution. In so doing, he simultaneously recalled the narrative of the president’s criticisms of certain judges as an undermining of the judiciary:
“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. 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.
…But I think it’s troublesome. I think it’s dangerous.”
“We’ve been tough on all presidents,” insisted Baquet. “It’s not — this is not a new phenomenon. The new phenomenon is maybe we have a president who doesn’t understand that that’s our role.”
Trump’s presidency, said Baquet, has ushered in a new era of clarity with respect to what he described as the NYT’s mission of “[holding] the president accountable”:
“Our mission is clearer than it’s ever been. We’re covering a dramatic revolution in government and how the country is governed. And it feels like all the things that bothered us and made us lose confidence in last few months has sort of gone away. It’s so clear what our mission is.”
Unnamed sources leaking information to left-wing and Democrat-aligned news outlets, said Baquet, were not motivated by partisan or other political concerns:
“[Anonymous sources] are not people who pull us aside because they want to screw Donald Trump. These are people who are worried about the direction of the government. These are people who are taking risks to talk to the media because they think these things need to be exposed.
And I have to say in an administration that has expressed so much distaste for the press and so much distaste for our role, are you surprised that some of the people who want to criticize the administration want to do it without their names attached? I’m not.
And I think that you will see more use of anonymous sources. I think we have to be careful. I think it’s got to be on the most important stories, but, boy, are they important? We’re in a different climate now.”
Baquet did not acknowledge left-wing and partisan Democrat biases at the NYT or across the broader news media landscape.
Like most of his counterparts across the legacy new media, Baquet bitterly clung to a pretense of objectivity and non-partisanship in his conduct.
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