New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has admitted his paper underestimated Donald Trump's support among American voters.
Sulzberger promises to "rededicate ourselves" to the newspaper's standards of reporting news "honestly," but had the "Gray Lady" been fair to start with, it would not need to rededicate itself, New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin said in a Saturday opinion piece.
"Because it demonized Trump from start to finish, it failed to realize he was onto something," Goodwin writes. "And because the paper decided that Trump's supporters were a rabble of racist rednecks and homophobes, it didn't have a clue about what was happening in the lives of the Americans who elected the new president."
Sulzberger's letter to subscribers promises that the paper will strive to understand all political perspectives, but "bad or sloppy journalism doesn't fully capture The Times' sins," said Goodwin.
"Not after it announced that it was breaking its rules of coverage because Trump didn't deserve fairness," he said.
In the letter to subscribers, signed by both Sulzberger and Executive Editor Dean Baquet, the pair said they promise to "rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you. It is also to hold power to account, impartially and unflinchingly. We believe we reported on both candidates fairly during the presidential campaign. You can rely on The New York Times to bring the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team."
However, Goodwin said Baquet had insisted Trump "challenged our language" and "changed journalism," but accused the top editor of doing just that by deciding that the "standards of fairness and nonpartisanship could be broken without consequence."
And now, the paper is "bleeding readers — and money," said Goodwin, who admits he's "pained" by the rival newspaper's decline, and how it gave "all reporters a black eye."
Sulzberger, said Goodwin, should use an outside law firm or in-house reporters to determine how and why Baquet made his decision, learn if reporters felt pressured to conform to Baquet's political bias, and insist that fairness of standards be once again in play.
Further, said Goodwin, Sulzberger needs to insist on diversity, to include journalists who disagree "with the Times' embedded liberal slant" to be employed.
"This is about survival," Goodwin concludes. "If it doesn't change now, the Gray Lady's days surely are numbered."
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