CNN/Screenshot New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet on Sunday called President Donald Trump’s attacks on the New York Times and other media outlets “dangerous.”
At the rally, Trump said The New York Times was full of “incompetent, dishonest people, who after an election had to apologize because … they covered it so badly that they felt they were forced to apologize because their predictions were so bad.”
Baquet refuted the assertion on Sunday, calling Trump’s claim the Times’ apologized “made-up” and describing the paper’s election coverage as “tough” and “aggressive.”
Trump has said multiple times that the Times apologized for its election coverage, likely referring to a postelection letter to subscribers from Baquet and publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. In the letter, they wrote that the Times and other news organizations may have underestimated Trump’s support with voters, but they said they believed the paper had reported on Clinton and Trump “fairly.” Baquet and the Times’ staff have said repeatedly that the letter was not an apology.
Stelter also asked Baquet his thoughts on comments made by Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
Priebus told host Jonathan Karl that the administration has “looked at” how the administration could change libel laws in response to articles that he said “have no basis or fact.” As an example, Priebus pointed to reports of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Here’s what Baquet had to say in response:
“I think what Priebus said, what the president is doing right now, to be frank, in regards to the media, is dangerous. I think that he is portraying the media as his enemy. I think he is making the media sort of the punching bag. It illustrates, perhaps, not understanding the role of the media. We’re supposed to be tough. We’re supposed to ask him hard questions. I’m not sure he gets that. I think the more he beats us up, to be frank, I think that’s bad for the country.”
Trump’s comments at the rally occurred as the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, an annual gathering of the White House press corps, took place. Presidents typically attend the dinner and deliver a monologue, but Trump had announced in February he wouldn’t participate.
Instead, Trump held the rally in Pennsylvania, trashing media outlets such as CNN and MSNBC as “fake news” and calling the wider Washington media elite “a disgrace.” He ripped the “totally failing New York Times,” which he said was getting gradually smaller and would soon “look like a comic book.”