“Fake News” Real Agenda

“It was a f-cking mess.” In an emergency, company wide town hall, last week, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet apologized for a front page Times headline that dismayingly suggested President Trump had urged “unity vs. racism” after three successive mass shootings.

Slate.com was slipped a recording of the 75 minute, soul bearing, newsroom summit. Times reporters demanded to know if the paper of record would finally declare with righteous conviction that Trump is “racist,” because, as one staffer declared, “It’s a very scary time.”

Baquet reassured his scribes that the Times’ coverage of Trump would remain aggressively and unwaveringly partisan. The beleaguered editor candidly outlined the paper’s guiding anti-Trump agenda. “ChapterOne 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?” As the Times chieftain explained, “We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well.” But after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s disappointing congressional testimony, “Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, ‘Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.’”

“Now,” Baquet told his staff, “We have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.” That story, he explained, will be devoted to framing Trump as “racist,” but without resorting to the crude epithet itself. Instead, for the next two years, the paper will provide closely observed detail, finely nuanced layers, and “powerful” storytelling to convey their larger point.

“And that,” says Baquet, “means trying to understand the segment of America that probably does not read us.” And, most likely, never will.


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