In a special NBC “Meet the Press” episode devoted to the media and President-elect Donald Trump, New York Times editor Dean Baquet said he’s troubled by Trump’s remarks about the press and the First Amendment.
“First off, the things he has said about the press in general are troublesome,” Baquet said. “He has said things that should make all journalists nervous about his view of the First Amendment, about his view of a press that’s supposed to ask him tough questions. So that makes me nervous.”
Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker said that despite the fact Trump often makes “questionable” and “challengeable” statements, he’s instructed his staff to keep their social media postings straight laced in order to maintain the trust of the readers.
Asked by host Chuck Todd whether he’d be willing to call out a falsehood as a “lie” like some other news outlets have done, Baker demurred, saying it was up to the newspaper to just present the set of facts and let the reader determine how to classify a statement.
“I’d be careful about using the word, ‘lie.’ ‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead,” Baker said, noting that when Trump claimed “thousands” of Muslims were celebrating on rooftops in New Jersey on 9/11, the Journal investigated and reported that they found no evidence of a claim.
“I think it’s then up to the reader to make up their own mind to say, ‘This is what Donald Trump says. This is what a reliable, trustworthy news organization reports. And you know what? I don’t think that’s true.’ I think if you start ascribing a moral intent, as it were, to someone by saying that they’ve lied, I think you run the risk that you look like you are, like you’re not being objective,” he said.
My emphasis. I’m not convinced this is the correct approach for a serious newspaper to take.