The New York Times responded to Donald Trump’s early Sunday morning tweet in which the president says he and publisher A.G. Sulzberger discussed “the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media.”
“Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times,” Trump wrote. “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.’”
In a statement to the Huffington Post shortly thereafter, Sulzberger said, “My main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric. I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.”
Trump, Sulzberger and the editor of the Times’ editorial page James Bennet met at the White House on July 20, according to Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy. She told HuffPost that although Trump’s aides asked that the meeting be off the record, Trump’s tweet made it “on the record” and offered Sulzberger an opportunity to respond.
Here is Sulzberger’s statement in full:
“My main purpose for accepting the meeting was to raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.
I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but 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.” I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.
I repeatedly stressed that this is particularly true abroad, where the president’s rhetoric is being used by some regimes to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists. I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press.
Throughout the conversation I emphasized that if President Trump, like previous presidents, was upset with coverage of his administration he was of course free to tell the world. 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. Instead, I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country.”