Last week a leaked transcript of a speech from New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet was published by Slate. The transcript showed the editor explaining that since the claim that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election fell apart, the paper will now publish stories claiming Trump is a racist for the rest of his presidency.
On Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took issue with this approach in a series of tweets.
“There was a time when journalists covered ‘news.’ The NYT has given up on even pretending anymore. Today, they are Pravda, a propaganda outlet by liberals, for liberals. These remarks at their ‘town hall’ are a scandal & would be a firing offense at any real journalistic outlet,” Cruz tweeted in reference to Baquet’s remarks.
Cruz then paraphrased Baquet’s remarks: “The Editor says (in effect) ‘for 2 yrs, we covered ‘Russia, Russia, Russia,’ facts be damned; now we’ll scream ‘racism, racism, racism’ for 18 mos, and the rest of the media follow us.’ That’s not journalism.”
CNBC reporter John Harwood criticized Cruz’s tweet by claiming “that’s not what the editor said.”
In reality, Cruz’s paraphrase is close to what Baquet said. The Times editor said that they covered the alleged Russia collusion story the way they did because they thought it looked “a certain way.” From the transcript:
Chapter 1 of the story of Donald Trump, not only for our newsroom but, frankly, for our readers, was: Did Donald Trump have untoward relationships with the Russians, and was there obstruction of justice? That was a really hard story, by the way, let’s not forget that. We set ourselves up to cover that story. I’m going to say it. We won two Pulitzer Prizes covering that story. And I think we covered that story better than anybody else.
The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, “Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.” And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?
But when the story fell apart, the Times needed a new angle to negatively cover Trump’s presidency, so they intend to focus on his alleged racism:
I think that we’ve got to change. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier: How do we cover a guy who makes these kinds of remarks? How do we cover the world’s reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that’s become so divided by Donald Trump? How do we grapple with all the stuff you all are talking about? How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven’t done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage. You all are going to have to help us shape that vision. But I think that’s what we’re going to have to do for the rest of the next two years.
Cruz responded to Harwood’s tweet by reminding his followers that Harwood the CNBC reporter “whose angry partisanship was so bad he got NBC fired from hosting 2016 GOP debates” and claimed Harwood made his statement with “ZERO facts, ZERO analysis.”
Cruz continued to criticize Harwood by claiming he didn’t read or analyze the script and had no “concern w/journalistic ethics.”
The Texas senator then turned his attention to the Times’ 1619 Project, which perfectly encapsulates the paper’s dedication to painting stories with a racist brush.
“E.g., NYT: ‘One reason we all signed off on The 1619 Project [explained below] and made it so ambitious and expansive was TO TEACH OUR READERS TO THINK A LITTLE BIT MORE LIKE THAT,’” Cruz tweeted, quoting Baquet. “Does that sound like news? Or editorial? (Remember, this was the ‘News’ Editor.)”
Finally, Cruz quoted the New York Times own description of the 1619 project.
“What is the 1619 project? In NYT’s words: ‘It aims to REFRAME OUR COUNTRY’S HISTORY, understanding 1619 as OUR TRUE FOUNDING, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the STORY WE TELL ourselves about who we are,’” Cruz tweeted.
Not only will the Times cover Trump as a racist, but it will ensure readers believe the story of America includes little else but racism.