After President Donald Trump accused the New York Times of a “virtual act of treason” for publishing a story revealing that the U.S. was stepping up cyber attacks against Russia’s power grid, CEO Mark Thompson and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger fired back at the president, calling his remarks “dangerous.”
Trump used his favorite medium Twitter to attack the Times.
Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2019
Thompson commented on the president’s remarks at the CNBC Evolve forum Wednesday in New York.
“The president is entirely entitled to not like everything he reads in The New York Times, I get that,” said Thompson, who has been president and CEO of The New York Times Company since 2012. “He has every right to say he doesn’t like the way we cover him or cover anything else. So this is not saying we shouldn’t be criticized.”
“But actually isolating journalists, as a group, not just the Times, but the whole industry, is a really frankly hostile, stupid but also dangerous thing to do,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s boss–Publisher Arthur Sulzberger echoed his statements in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
First it was “the failing New York Times.” Then “fake news.” Then “enemy of the people.” President Trump’s escalating attacks on the New York Times have paralleled his broader barrage on American media. He’s gone from misrepresenting our business, to assaulting our integrity, to demonizing our journalists with a phrase that’s been used by generations of demagogues.
Now the president has escalated his attacks even further, accusing the Times of a crime so grave it is punishable by death.
Sulzberger went on to say that “this new attack crosses a dangerous line in the president’s campaign against a free and independent press,” and that he feared that president would put his threats into action against the press while drawing a line between Trump’s remarks and the increasing attacks against journalists worldwide.
The Times has been one of the president’s top targets in the media and Sulzberger wanted the public to know that the paper is committed to good journalism even if the president doesn’t agree.
Over 167 years, through 33 presidential administrations, the Times has sought to serve America and its citizens by seeking the truth and helping people understand the world. There is nothing we take more seriously than doing this work fairly and accurately, even when we are under attack. Mr. Trump’s campaign against journalists should concern every patriotic American. A free, fair and independent press is essential to our country’s strength and vitality and to every freedom that makes it great.
Thompson and Sulzberger are right that Trump was wrong to have accused the Times of treason, but they both glossed over the bias and inaccuracy the newspaper has been guilty of in covering the Trump administration as well as conservatives and Republicans in general for decades.