A former executive editor of the New York Times says the paper’s news pages, the home of its straight-news coverage, have become “unmistakably anti-Trump.”
Jill Abramson, the veteran journalist who led the newspaper from 2011 to 2014, says the Times has a financial incentive to bash the president and that the imbalance is helping to erode its credibility.
In a soon-to-be published book, “Merchants of Truth,” that casts a skeptical eye on the news business, Abramson defends the Times in some ways but offers some harsh words for her successor, Dean Baquet. And Abramson, who was the paper’s only female executive editor until her firing, invoked Steve Bannon’s slam that in the Trump era the mainstream media have become the “opposition party.”
“Though Baquet said publicly he didn’t want the Times to be the opposition party, his news pages were unmistakably anti-Trump,” Abramson writes, adding that she believes the same is true of the Washington Post. “Some headlines contained raw opinion, as did some of the stories that were labeled as news analysis.”
What’s more, she says, citing legendary 20th century publisher Adolph Ochs, “the more anti-Trump the Times was perceived to be, the more it was mistrusted for being biased. Ochs’s vow to cover the news without fear or favor sounded like an impossible promise in such a polarized environment.”
Abramson describes a generational split at the Times, with younger staffers, many of them in digital jobs, favoring an unrestrained assault on the presidency. “The more ‘woke’ staff thought that urgent times called for urgent measures; the dangers of Trump’s presidency obviated the old standards,” she writes.
Trump claims he is keeping the “failing” Times in business—an obvious exaggeration—but the former editor acknowledges a “Trump bump” that saw digital subscriptions during his first six months in office jump by 600,000, to more than 2 million.