President Donald Trump once again claimed that the New York Times apologized to its readers because its “coverage was so wrong” during the 2016 presidential campaign. However, the Times never did that, only promising to “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism.”
On March 29, Trump sent out another tweet with his claim that the Times apologized. He also used his favorite adjective to describe the paper: “failing.” “Remember when the failing @nytimes apologized to its subscribers, right after the election, because their coverage was so wrong. Now worse,” Trump wrote.
He followed this up with another message about the media. “If the people of our great country could only see how viciously and inaccurately my administration is covered by certain media,” Trump wrote.
The Times’ communications team responded to Trump’s statement, noting that they never issued an “apology.” “False, we did not apologize. We stand by our coverage & thank our millions of subscribers for supporting our journalism,” the Times wrote.
The Trump statements followed a Times report on Vice President Mike Pence’s role in the administration under the headline “Amid White House Tumult, Pence Offers Trump a Steady Hand.”
In the piece, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman report that Pence’s team has “at times questioned” the effectiveness of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, citing an unnamed source. However, Pence communications director Jarrod Agen told the Times that it is “categorically untrue for anyone to suggest that Reince has anything but the full support” of Pence.
Trump has claimed in the past that the Times apologized for its coverage of the 2016 presidential election, but PolitiFact categorizes the statement as “false.”
On November 13, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and executive editor Dean Baquet did publish “To Our Readers, From the Publisher and Executive Editor.” In this letter, the two didn’t apologize, only stating that they will “rededicate” themselves in the wake of Trump’s surprising victory. The letter reads, in part:
“As we reflect on the momentous result, and the months of reporting and polling that preceded it, we aim to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you. It is also to hold power to account, impartially and unflinchingly. You can rely on The New York Times to bring the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team.”
Baquet and Sulzberger did admit that the Times and other news outlets did undersetimate Trump’s support. “Did Donald Trump’s sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters?” the statement reads.
Trump has also consistently called the Times “failing.” However, The Times told CNBC that in the days after the election, they saw “a net increase of approximately 132,000 paid subscriptions to our news products.”
In February 2017, The Times reported that print advertising revenue dropped 16 percent in 2016, leading to an overall 9 percent drop in total advertising revenue. However, the Times saw gains on the digital front, adding 514,000 net digital-only subscribers in 2016. In total, the Times has 1.6 million digital-only subscribers. Adding in print and crossword puzzle subscribers, the Times has over 3 million total paid subscribers.
Despite his disdain for the Times, Trump called Haberman himself on March 24 to blame Democrats for the Republicans’ failure to pass a new health care bill.
“Look, we got no Democratic votes. We got none, zero,” Trump told Haberman. “The good news is they now own health care. They now own Obamacare.”
While House Republicans were scrambling to get support for their Health Care bill, President Donald Trump was busy getting into an 18-wheeler.