Accuracy in Media

New York Times reporters Mark Landler and Ana Swanson let their bias show in an article on the Trump administration’s China negotiations, including in its headline: “Chances of China Trade Win Undercut by Trump Team Infighting.”

The reporting was published in the straight news section of the Times, but offered no alternate viewpoint about the successes (and the market’s positive response) of the ongoing negotiations.

Rather, the reporting labeled the performance with phrases like “muddled end to a chaotic process” and an administration official with “uncertain credentials.”

“By the time American negotiators wrapped up high-level talks with a visiting Chinese delegation last week, President Trump’s ambitions for a multibillion-dollar trade agreement had, for the time being, shriveled into a blandly worded communiqué without any dollar figures. It was not clear that the talks set a path to success.

“Ceaseless infighting and jockeying for influence on the White House’s trade team helped deprive Mr. Trump of a quick victory on his most cherished policy agenda, several people involved in the talks said. The deep internal divisions carried over into how officials characterized the agreement and muddied the outlook for the next phase of the negotiations between Washington and Beijing.”

While it’s unfortunate that an opinion section gives the missing facts that should exist in reporting, The Wall Street Journal opinion page offered an alternate view to the supposed straight NYT reporting.

The Journal editorial included the sentiment that the approach the Trump administration wasn’t an either-or proposition (as the Times presented: “The divisions within the American team revolve around whether the United States should try to secure a short-term deal with China that would benefit some industries and avert a potential trade war, a path that Mr. Mnuchin prefers, or whether they should pressure China to make more fundamental changes to its economy”) but rather an ongoing negotiation on many fronts and the Trump administration’s unorthodox approach to threaten tariffs has been effective negotiating tool.

“The U.S. and China struck a truce on trade over the weekend, and on Monday the financial markets signaled their approval with a rally in equities,” the Journal wrote. “That should be a message to President Trump that his negotiators are on the right track in trying to open China’s market, instead of closing America’s.”

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