The Slatest

Trump Blasts NY Times, Accuses It of Going on a “Racism Witch Hunt”

President Donald Trump, pointing, in front of an American flag.
President Donald Trump at a “Keep America Great” campaign rally at the SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday.
Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Donald Trump blasted the “failing” New York Times in a series of tweets Sunday morning, accusing the paper of “shifting from the Phony Russian Collusion Narrative (the Mueller Report & his testimony were a total disaster), to a Racism Witch Hunt.” Trump claimed that the master plan “got caught by a leaker,” adding that it shows how “‘journalism’ has reached a new low” and “is nothing more than an evil propaganda machine for the Democrat Party.”

The commander in chief then tied it back to his poll numbers, saying that with all his successes “think what my Poll Numbers would be if we had an honest Media, which we do not!”

In his tweets about a “shifting” narrative, it seems Trump is referring to a recording of comments made by the Times’ executive editor, Dean Baquet, at an internal town hall meeting that was leaked to Slate. During the town hall, Baquet said:

This is a really hard story, newsrooms haven’t confronted one like this since the 1960s. It got trickier after [inaudible] … went from being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character. We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well. Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story. I’d love your help with that.

The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened. Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, “Holy shit, Bob Mueller is not going to do it.” And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago. We’re a little tiny bit flat-footed. I mean, that’s what happens when a story looks a certain way for two years. Right?

I think that we’ve got to change. I mean, the vision for coverage for the next two years is what I talked about earlier: How do we cover a guy who makes these kinds of remarks? How do we cover the world’s reaction to him? How do we do that while continuing to cover his policies? How do we cover America, that’s become so divided by Donald Trump? How do we grapple with all the stuff you all are talking about? How do we write about race in a thoughtful way, something we haven’t done in a large way in a long time? That, to me, is the vision for coverage. You all are going to have to help us shape that vision. But I think that’s what we’re going to have to do for the rest of the next two years.

Before his own tweets, Trump had already spent part of the weekend calling attention to the leaked transcript after it was seized by conservative commentators who said it showed how the Times was trying to portray Trump as a racist now that the Russia investigation had ended. “The takeaway? The NYT says it is mapping out a narrative in advance of any naturally-occurring, true news events, and plans to shape all natural-occurring, true news events so that they are reported in the context of racism,” Sharyl Attkisson tweeted. Trump retweeted Attkisson Saturday and commented: “Such a disgrace.” Trump also retweeted the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, who linked to a story about the town hall meeting wondering: “Should the public still view the Times as a news outlet? Or as something else?”