By Michael P. Riccards
Sometime ago, the New York Times sent a glossy brochure to its loyal subscribers which was a remarkable and expensive defense of how the newspaper comprises its editions and the various department that it uses. It is probably a response due to the violent attacks that President Donald Trump launched on the media, including the conservative Wall Street Journal. He has argued that not only are the newspapers and televisions station wrong on issues, but they are in fact giving the American people a steady diet of falsehoods.
The Times publisher has been especially wounded by the constant criticism of the news industry, and The Times has a special responsibility for it is informally the newspaper of record for historians. Having said that, I want to make clear that in my response to the Times, I pointed out that that great newspaper did engage in its opinion pieces a steady diet of negative reporting about the president. I also noted that the opinions of correspondents leaching out into the way they report factual news. It has always been a journalistic ideal to separate fact (whatever that is) from opinion.
Some Times reporters, including the very good ones, have decided to not only criticize the chief executive, but to let it obviously slant the news reporting: the topics, the treatment, the factual judgment. In the process, The Times is not doing its job.
For example, we are engaged in a fierce trade war with Communist China, in which the administration is trying to deal with that nation’s trade policies. Fine, but what exactly are the issues, and what are the rationales for our policy. In this porous world do we really believe that we can stop by treaty industrial espionage? The Japanese steal from America, the Koreans steal from the Japanese, the East Asians steal from the Koreans, and the Americans buy the goods. Where exactly are we in terms of that treaty? What about the severing of the Iran treaty? What exactly are the reasons why some leaders feel it is a bad deal? We broke up the North Atlantic trade agreement, and Trump has asked for a second one, but there really are very few differences.
Why can’t the The Times put its enormous and talented staff to give us more than anti-Trump venom? Tell us more, not less. That is not fake news. It is a position worthy of a great newspaper. And we all must deal with the serious question if the president is really mentally fit to serve another term, raise the issue for it is critical to the health of the republic.
Michael P. Riccards is president of the American Public Policy Institute and the author of 30 books including his two-volume history of the presidency, The Ferocious Engine of Democracy, and the forthcoming “Woodrow Wilson as Commander-in-Chief.”