NYT Publisher: I Told Trump ‘Enemy Of The People’ Rhetoric ‘Will Lead To Violence’

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 28: Members of the New York City Police Department stand outside the headquarters of The New York Times, June 28, 2018 in New York City. NYPD announced increased security in Manhattan at major media companies following a shooting today at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images North America

New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger said Sunday that he’d told President Donald Trump in a meeting that Trump’s rhetoric about journalists being “the enemy of the people” was “dangerous and harmful to our country.”

The statement came after Trump tweeted about the meeting Sunday morning.

According to the Times, the conversation between Trump, Sulzberger and Times editorial page editor James Bennet took place more than a week ago, on July 20. The meeting was originally off-the-record, until Trump’s tweet on Sunday. 

After a gunman shot and killed five people at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland in late June, the newsroom wrote in an editorial: “We won’t forget being called an enemy of the people.”

Read the Times’ and Sulzberger’s statement in full:

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

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.

Correction: The photo initially accompanying this post showed Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., the Times’ former publisher. His son, A.G. Sulzberger, is the current publisher. TPM regrets the error.

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