In an interview with The Guardian, The New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said President Donald Trump's “attacks on journalists” at The Times puts their lives at risk. He further said he is “not in a position to know” whether Trump's “divisive comments” stem from racist beliefs.
“I think that when he actually calls reporters names, says they’re un-American, says they’re enemies of the people ... that phrase has a deep history,” Baquet said in the interview published on Nov. 18.
“I think when he says that, it is an appalling attack on the press.”
Baquet referred to President Trump’s remarks about reporter Maggie Haberman in 2018 when he called her a “Crooked H flunkie,” on Twitter. Those were “pretty awful and pretty un-presidential,” said Baquet, adding that they threatened Haberman’s security.
“I think personal attacks on journalists, when he calls them names, I think he puts their lives at risk.”
He also mentioned that he warned younger reporters at The Times against embracing “leftwing Democratic candidates,” and added that he rejects assigning “value judgement” against the president because it would harm the newspaper’s credibility.
“They probably want a more political New York Times than I’m willing to give them,” Baquet said. “I hope they will learn over time that a New York Times that plays it straight has much more power and much more longevity.”
In 2018, Trump was outspoken about his discontentment with the reporting at The Times, calling it “the Failing New York Times,” and saying the publication was turning its coverage of him into a “racism witch hunt.”
Baquet said he stands for journalism that is “empathetic” to people on different sides of the political spectrum.
“The way I see it is, our job is to cover the world with tremendous curiosity,” said Baquet. “And with a desire to understand the people who voted for Donald Trump and why they voted for Donald Trump. I think some of our readers want us to dismiss some of those people. I think that’s not empathetic coverage.”
Baquet noted that the paper has received criticism from the left for not calling Trump a “racist” or “sexist.” He defended this decision. But he also said “the most powerful story he has read about racism” did not include the word “racist.”