New York Times Executive Editor: We Were a ‘Little Tiny Bit Flat-Footed’ With Mueller Coverage

Details of Dean Baquet’s staff town hall meeting are reported by Slate

Dean Baquet New York Times

Details from a previously-reported town hall meeting called by New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet on Monday were published by Slate Thursday afternoon under the title “The New York Times Unites vs. Twitter.”

According to a recording of the 75-minute meeting obtained by Slate, Baquet said the paper was “a little tiny bit flat-footed” after special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign ended: “Our readers who want Donald Trump to go away suddenly thought, ‘Holy s–t, Bob Mueller is not going to do it. And Donald Trump got a little emboldened politically, I think. Because, you know, for obvious reasons. And I think that the story changed. A lot of the stuff we’re talking about started to emerge like six or seven weeks ago.”

The meeting came amid a tough time for the Times. The paper faces continuing fallout over changing a Trump speech headline the previous week, including criticism for capitulating to the public pressure. The flap has taken its toll: The Times saw an increase in subscription cancellations after the reader backlash, a Times spokesperson told TheWrap last week. One day after the town hall meeting, the Times demoted deputy Washington editor, Jonathan Weisman, over his behavior on social media.

According to Slate, “Baquet, in his remarks, seemed to fault the complaining readers, and the world, for their failure to understand the Times and its duties in the era of Trump.”

“They sometimes want us to pretend that he was not elected president, but he was elected president,” Baquet said. “And our job is to figure out why, and how, and to hold the administration to account. If you’re independent, that’s what you do.”

A representative for the Times did not immediately respond to request for comment.