Trump white house press
Evan Vucci/AP


  • The New York Times put out a statement Sunday revealing the details of a previously off-the-record meeting the paper’s publisher had with President Donald Trump.
  • The paper said in its statement that it was choosing to divulge those details after Trump tweeted about the meeting Sunday morning, thereby putting it on the record.
  • Trump said that he had a “good and interesting” meeting with Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger, adding that they spent time “talking about the vast amounts” of fake news “being put out by the media,” and how that “Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.'”
  • In a statement issued Sunday, Sulzberger said the White House requested the meeting and that he accepted the invitation to warn the president about the danger of his “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.”

The New York Times put out a statement Sunday that seemed to counter President Donald Trump’s claim earlier in the day about a meeting with A.G. Sulzberger, the paper’s publisher.

“Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times,” the president tweeted on Sunday morning. “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!”

Trump frequently employs the term “fake news” to describe unfavorable press coverage, and the phrase “enemy of the people” first gained traction when Trump used it last year, shortly after taking office, to criticize coverage that he did not like.

The Times released a statement after Trump tweeted about the meeting on Sunday, saying the White House had requested the meeting, which took place on July 20, and asked that it be off the record.

But the paper said Trump’s tweet Sunday morning put the meeting on the record, prompting Sulzberger to speak out about its content, based on “detailed notes” he and James Bennet, who oversees The Times’ editorial page, took.

Sulzberger said the main reason he accepted Trump’s invitation to meet was to “raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric,” which he characterized as “divisive” and “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’s statement said. “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”

Sulzberger also said that he emphasized during the meeting that he was not asking the president to soften his attacks on The Times if he felt the paper’s coverage was unfair.

“Instead, I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country,” the statement concluded.

The Times is a frequent target for Trump, who often dubs the paper, “The Failing New York Times.”

He indicated as much in a separate tweetstorm he blasted out after The Times released Sulzberger’s statement, and he also spun Sulzberger’s words to suggest that it was media outlets that were putting lives at risk.

“When the media – driven insane by their Trump Derangement Syndrome – reveals internal deliberations of our government, it truly puts the lives of many, not just journalists, at risk!” the president tweeted. “Very unpatriotic! Freedom of the press also comes with a responsibility to report the news … accurately.”

He added: “90% of media coverage of my Administration is negative, despite the tremendously positive results we are achieving, it’s no surprise that confidence in the media is at an all time low! I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the … dying newspaper industry.”

“No matter how much they try to distract and cover it up, our country is making great progress under my leadership and I will never stop fighting for the American people!” he continued. “As an example, the failing New York Times … and the Amazon Washington Post do nothing but write bad stories even on very positive achievements – and they will never change!”

Earlier in the week, the White House drew sharp scrutiny when it banned CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from a Rose Garden press event after she asked Trump tough questions about Michael Cohen and his summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump and his allies frequently insult reporters, like CNN’s Jim Acosta, and the daily press briefings often feature contentious back-and-forths between reporters and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has also been known to take individual jabs at journalists.

As Sulzberger noted, it’s not uncommon for the White House and the press to have a tense relationship. But observers have pointed out that the relationship between the Trump White House and the media appears to be at a particularly low point, due in large part to Trump’s tendency to deem any coverage he doesn’t like as “fake” and “dishonest.”

Sulzberger took over as publisher from his father Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. in January, more than a year after Trump met with Times editors and reporters for a wide-ranging interview after his 2016 election victory.

Though Trump has taken to calling it the “failing New York Times,” The Times has reported consistently rising subscriptions and readership since Trump took office.

As reported by Business Insider