As part of his Sunday morning tweetstorm, President Donald Trump revealed he had a private meeting with New York Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger. But within two hours, Sulzberger issued his own statement on the meeting that disputed the president’s account of the sit-down and their discussions about journalism and the media.
“Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times,” Trump wrote. “Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!”
Sulzberger then released his own detailed statement through the Times about the meeting he attended with James Bennet, who is the paper’s editorial page editor. Although the meeting, as is usual for these types of sit-downs, was off the record, Trump’s tweet “put the meeting on the record,” the Times said in a statement.
Sulzberger said he agreed to the meeting with Trump “to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.” The Times publisher also warned Trump that “his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.” Although using the term “fake news” is “untrue and harmful,” Sulzberger said he is “far more concerned” with the commander in chief calling journalists “the enemy of the people.” That type of language “is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence,” Sulzberger said.
Sulzberger said he repeatedly emphasized throughout the meeting that he wasn’t asking the president to take it easy on the Times. But rather for him to recognize that his language is having far-reaching effects, not just in the United States but also abroad, “where the president’s rhetoric is being used by some regimes to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists.”
Sulzberger gave a few more details of the meeting in an interview with the Times. At one point in the sit-down Sulzberger says he pointed out that some newspapers have started posting armed guards outside because of the increasing threats against journalists. The president was apparently surprised newspapers didn’t already have armed guards.
Support work like this for just $1
Slate is covering the stories that matter to you. Become a Slate Plus member to support our work. Your first month is only $1.