The revelations from an internal town hall between New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet and key members of the paper’s staff, which leaked to Slate and were reported Thursday with an extensive transcript, prove everything we already knew — namely, that the paper was dedicating its coverage and its very credibility to the Trump-Russia narrative.
“We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well,” Baquet told the assemblage. “Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.”
Think about that statement for a minute. Baquet says he “built our newsroom” to cover a story which turns out to have been based on a hoax spread by Democrat Party operatives and used by a corrupt Obama administration to spy on innocent American citizens while attempting to prejudice a presidential election.
Had the Times actually covered the back half of the Trump-Russia story, in which the abuses by the Obama and Clinton camps turn out to have been the meat of the thing, it might have been justified to “build our newsroom” around it. But of course that’s not what Baquet did.
Not shockingly, as Baquet admitted, things went badly.
“Chapter 1 of the story of Donald Trump,” he said, “not only for our newsroom but, frankly, for our readers, was: Did Donald Trump have untoward relationships with the Russians, and was there obstruction of justice? That was a really hard story, by the way, let’s not forget that. We set ourselves up to cover that story. I’m going to say it. We won two Pulitzer Prizes covering that story. And I think we covered that story better than anybody else.”
Then came Honest Bob Mueller, who it turns out was a big disappointment to Baquet and his gang.
“The day Bob Mueller walked off that witness stand, two things happened,” Baquet continued. “Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, ‘Holy s–t, 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?”
The Trump-Russia story hasn’t looked “a certain way” for two years at all. Not to anyone who was objective about the story. In fact, after about six months at maximum anybody interested in the truth could have screamed from rooftops that the Steele dossier was the crux of the Trump-Russia story and that the whole thing was a put-up job designed to serve as a slow-motion wrecking ball to the Trump administration. The fact that Baquet and the Times were fully invested in swinging that wrecking ball is now unmistakable by his own admission.
Well, he swung it. And he’s missed his target and hit his own institution full-on.
It’s worse. Baquet now says he’s rebuilding his newsroom for something else.
“I think that we’ve got to change,” he told the town hall. Baquet says the Times’ new focus is to “write more deeply about the country, race, and other divisions.”
While you’re letting that sink in, here’s more.
“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?” he said. “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?”
And just a bit more.
“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.”
So after burning his paper’s credibility with respect to Trump by flailing away at the Russia hoax for two years and now admitting that the entire thing was a colossal whiff, Pulitzer Prizes notwithstanding (those ring about as hollow as the Nobel Peace Prizes given to Yasser Arafat and Barack Obama, in retrospect), Baquet now wants to spend the next two years forcing the ashes of that credibility down the collective throat of the American people by spreading non-stop the further hoax of the president’s racism.
This being a president who was routinely feted and complimented by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton before he ran and who’s such a racist that under his management black unemployment is at record lows. Would Black Entertainment Television chief executive officer Robert Johnson be so effusive about Trump’s economic performance if he really thought the president was a racist or white supremacist, or any of the other slurs the Times appears dedicated to tag Trump with?
In a way, Baquet has done the country a favor. Now that his performance at the Times’ internal meeting has leaked out, there can be no denying the intentions behind the nonstop accusations of Trump’s racism — and that of every one of his voters by extension — to come in the next year and change before the November 2020 elections.
If the ownership of the Times had any integrity or business sense, they would drop Dean Baquet like a radioactive turd this very day. I can’t think of anything more poisonous than a newspaper’s executive editor essentially publicly admitting his plan to stoke racial animosity in an effort to influence a presidential election when his charge is to present that publication as an objective deliverer of news. Fulfilling that mission is now impossible.
Baquet has to go, as does the newsroom he built in pursuit of a hoax perpetrated on the American people — and he has to go now, before he does any more damage to domestic stability.
So until he does, it isn’t a bad idea for those people unsatisfied with the quotes above to not just refuse to spend a single dime on the Times’ content but also to similarly refuse patronage of its advertisers.
The reason this kind of abuse of the First Amendment happens is those behind it don’t see consequences to their actions. That can’t continue. It’s time to make the Gray Lady suffer.