The publisher of The New York Times said Sunday that he told President Trump his rhetoric on the media will lead to violence against journalists.
A.G. Sulzberger detailed the contents of his White House meeting with the president after Trump revealed the meeting in a Sunday morning tweet.
“Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times,” Trump tweeted. “Spent much time talking 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!”
Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times. Spent much time talking 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!
The New York Times said in a statement that White House aides requested that the July 20 meeting be off the record, “which has also been the practice for such meetings in the past” between presidents and Times publishers.
The Times’s statement said that because Trump “put the meeting on the record” by tweeting about it, Sulzberger “decided to respond to the president’s characterization of their conversation.
Sulzberger said in the statement that he accepted the invitation to meet Trump at the White House in order to “raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked The Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC and other news outlets, seeking to discredit them as “fake news” and railing against negative coverage of his administration.
He has also referred to the press as the “enemy of the people. Critics have blamed his comments for increased hostility toward journalists.
Sulzberger said he told Trump that his language was “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,’” Sulzberger said. “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”
He noted that Trump’s “fake news” comments are being used by foreign leaders of regimes “to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists,” and that the rhetoric is “putting lives at risk” and undermining democracy in the U.S.
Sulzberger said he did not ask Trump to stop criticism of The Times if he believed their coverage was unfair, but urged him to tamp down his criticism of the press overall.
“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,” Sulzberger said. “Instead, I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country.”