The New York Times investigative team admitted its has an agenda heading into their anti-Trump reporting during a written Q&A with Times reporters Rebecca Corbett and Dean Murphy published by the Times in a “series of posts explaining some of our journalistic practices.”
“The standard to be able to conclude something definitively — like, say, ‘President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes’ — is really high,” wrote Katie Van Syckle, the Times colleague leading the Q&A. “As an editor, what do you need to feel confident publishing that?”
The lengthy Times’ investigative reporting around President Trump’s father and the Trump family business conceded that the Trump family did nothing that wasn’t commonplace among families of that era. But that didn’t stop Corbett from asserting that their goal in reporting was to be “persuasive” about their preconceived investigative “thesis”–rather than following evidence wherever it leads.
“Stories in my view have to be persuasive,” Corbett said. “Persuasive meaning you can make a case for whatever your thesis is. And your thesis has to be buttressed with all manner of things. It can be documents; it can be interviews; it can be the person’s own statements. Typically it is a combination of many things. There is no one handbook on what makes an investigative story.”
Corbett admitted that the investigative team is often on a fishing expedition, affirming what conservatives know: the Times’ anti-Trump bias is a conditioned reflex.
“Particularly in the Trump presidency, there are so many things to pursue and you just can’t tell on a given day where anything will lead, so there is a lot of chasing down things that don’t materialize,” Corbett said.
Murphy said he gets a “thrill” by creating stories that affirm their self-selected theses.
“I think the thrill is the same across the profession,” Murphy said. “I think a big part of it is the creation part. If you find A and B and are able to make C from it, you are basically creating a C that didn’t exist before. And it is hopefully in an area that makes a difference or has some sort of impact or is relevant to people’s lives.”