Trump vs. the Times: Inside an Off-the-Record Meeting

On July 20th, the new publisher of the Times, A. G. Sulzberger, visited the Oval Office at the invitation of President Trump. The meeting was meant to be off the record. As a matter of policy, Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the Times, will not attend such meetings without being able to report on them. Instead, Sulzberger went to the session accompanied by James Bennet, the editorial-page editor. The meeting, which Trump clearly intended as a way both to introduce himself to Sulzberger and to complain about coverage, became, in the course of more than an hour, something a great deal more revealing.

The President broke the off-record agreement nine days later by tweeting that he and Sulzberger had talked about “the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!” Sulzberger fired back with a statement saying that he went to the meeting expressly to push back on the President’s “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” which has proved “not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.”


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