Trump Breaches ‘Off-the-Record’ Promise to the New York Times with Unhinged Rage-Tweets

For someone who relentlessly bashes the media for its honesty and ethics, Donald Trump seems to have little concern for either, particularly with regard to the media. And this goes much farther than his reckless attacks that media experts have warned are likely to result in violence against journalists who are just trying to do their job.

Donald Trump

On Sunday morning Trump posted a peculiar tweet that, on the surface, suggested a bit of thawing in his persistent hostility toward the press. He revealed that he met with A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times, one of Trump’s most reviled foes. In the past, Trump has maligned the Times as liars who deliberately publish false stories with sources that Trump says don’t exist (they do). In this tweet Trump pretended that the meeting was cordial and productive:

As it turns out, Trump was not only lying, he actually violated an agreement that he insisted on that the meeting be off the record. We learned this when the Times posted a response to Trump’s tweet to set the record straight. The statement by the Times is a wholly unprecedented occurrence that could not have even been thought of in the administration of any other president. But this is where we are now. Here is the Times’ statement in full:

Statement of A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher, The New York Times, in Response to President Trump’s Tweet About Their Meeting
July 29, 2018

Earlier this month, A.G. received a request from the White House to meet with President Trump. This was not unusual; there has been a long tradition of New York Times publishers holding such meetings with presidents and other public figures who have concerns about coverage.

On July 20th, A.G. went to the White House, accompanied by James Bennet, who oversees the editorial page of The Times. Mr. Trump’s aides requested that the meeting be off the record, which has also been the practice for such meetings in the past.

But with Mr. Trump’s tweet this morning, he has put the meeting on the record, so A.G. has decided to respond to the president’s characterization of their conversation, based on detailed notes A.G. and James took.

Statement of A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher, The New York Times:
My main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.

I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.

I told him that although the phrase “fake news” is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists “the enemy of the people.” I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.

I repeatedly stressed that this is particularly true abroad, where the president’s rhetoric is being used by some regimes to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists. I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press.

Throughout the conversation I emphasized that if President Trump, like previous presidents, was upset with coverage of his administration he was of course free to tell the world. I made clear repeatedly that I was not asking for him to soften his attacks on The Times if he felt our coverage was unfair. Instead, I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country.

So Sulzberger accepted the meeting with the hopes that he could moderate Trump’s animus toward the press and his hostility toward the Constitution’s First Amendment. That was a wildly optimistic expectation. But what we still don’t know is why Trump asked for the meeting in the first place. Presumably to bitch about “fake news” and threaten to punish the Times if they didn’t bend to his will. He has recently been throwing around threats at journalists who have dare to exercise independence and free speech.

Sulzberger’s warnings to Trump about the use of phrases like “fake news” and “enemy of the people” were appropriate and long over due. Trump needed to hear directly that his callousness was “putting lives at risk” and “undermining the democratic ideals.” Not that he would listen or understand. And, unfortunately, there was no indication in Sulzberger’s statement as to whether Trump grasped the significance of these points or if he was even paying attention. However, Trump himself gave us a pretty good idea of what he thought of the meeting in a series of angry tweets a few hours later:

Trump incredibly blamed Sulzberger for “reveal[ing] the internal deliberations of our government” that Trump himself revealed on Twitter first. And if there is substantial negative coverage of his administration it’s only because he’s an incompetent boor who has failed in everything he’s ever attempted in his life. What he regards as “positive results” are the hallucinations of a maniacal narcissist.

Sulzberger diplomatically avoided any disclosure of the substance of their discussions. That’s how adults behave when trying to resolve contentious relationships with the aim of finding some common ground. But Trump is behaving like a china shop bullshitter by disparaging the Times, and the media at large, with insulting allusions to it being a dying institution that is never going to change – by which Trump means suck up to him.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
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In the end, Trump demonstrated that his original assertion that the meeting was “very good and interesting” was just another Trump lie. His subsequent tweets prove that he never meant that. He was just posturing with the expectation that his disingenuous blather wouldn’t be revealed. And when it was he just made matters worse by unleashing the rancorous bile that is always just below the surface of his unnaturally orange and lace-thin skin. Same as it ever was.


4 thoughts on “Trump Breaches ‘Off-the-Record’ Promise to the New York Times with Unhinged Rage-Tweets

  1. To be fair, the media in American history has been owned by wealthy families who use their control of the media to operate against the American people and to support candidates who will support big business and wealthy people interests.

    • Your comment while absolutely factua does NOT respond to the Presidents unrelenting and I do think dangerous comments about the media. Let him once offer an accurate quote in which he can define the lie or lies written by that paper or stated by the media on television or on the radio.

      To indicate that it is the wealthy families who while controlling the media and support anti-American interests does show your bias against all those papers who use editorials, and the myriad of comments made by many, many reporters who are constantly calling out the results of congress and their leaders who are passing legislature that is blatantly detrimental to the American people.
      Why are pharmaceutical prices beyond the reach of many Americans and why are Americans denied the right to purchase them from Canada?
      Why hasn’t anyone tried to match so-called political donations with the legislator that the recipient vote for? What is a bribe.?
      Why would any industry, lobbyist or outside political group give outrageously sums of money to ploticians if the were NOT receiving something in return?
      Why is Congress trying to shut down the Russian collusion effort.? Because it is not real or because IT IS?

      • Bias against all papers? The press is almost totally owned by the wealthy people/corporations and that is a fact. There is no significant media anymore compare to those in Europe which have a media network of all different viewpoints.

        ” myriad of comments made by many, many reporters who are constantly calling out the results of congress and their leaders who are passing legislature that is blatantly detrimental to the American people.”

        Funny, where were these reporters during the Iran Contra Scandal, throwing their support behind Gary Webb, when he talks about the drug connection of the Iran Contra Scandal or when Bush, Jr., was lying that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction? Where was the press in advocating reforms for the stock market scandals of 1987, the Savings and Loan scandal, and the economic meltdown of 2008? The press has not been doing its job for the 38 years; otherwise, we would not be in the political, social, and economic mess.

  2. I wonder what traitor trump means by “very positive achievements”…

    trillions in debt giving handouts to the wealthy?
    giving russians classified intel?
    lying 3,000+ times?

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