‘Morning Joe’ Admits Smearing NY Times’ Dean Baquet

Dean Baquet: “Too often, we are clumsy in handling issues of race and gender and this story was another unfortunate example.” 
National Association of Black Journalists via YouTube screenshot

On Nov. 10, Joe Scarborough claimed that New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet declared in August that "the New York Times’ job and journalists’ job now was to defeat Donald Trump." Scarborough acknowledged Tuesday to the Times' Jim Rutenberg, pictured, that he misspoke.

After excoriating reporters who covered the 2016 presidential campaign as "cheerleaders" for Hillary Clinton, MSNBC's conservative "Morning Joe" co-host Joe Scarborough apologized on the air Tuesday for his over-the-top language claiming that New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet declared in August that "the New York Times’ job and journalists’ job now was to defeat Donald Trump." (video)


Scarborough misquoted New York Times media writer Jim Rutenberg in a rant two days after the election, saying, "your job you thought — and Jim Rutenberg did say back in August the New York Times’ job and journalists’ job now was to defeat Donald Trump — that was the editor of the New York Times confirmed that. If you really think that’s your job.

"Think about this. Think about what you did. You were trying to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump because you thought Donald Trump would be such a malignant cancer on our Constitutional Republic."

Joe Scarborough

Actually, Baquet said no such thing, and if he had, it would certainly be considered unethical.


But in the wake of the Times' aggressive coverage of Trump especially in the last part of the campaign, including calling Trump's longtime assertion that President Obama was not born in the United States a "lie" and publishing a portion of Trump's leaked tax returns, conservative media outlets portrayed the Times as a villain in the wake of Trump's electoral college victory.

In a letter to subscribers Friday from Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Baquet, the Times leaders vowed that the paper would “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor.”


New York Post writer Michael Goodwin, a onetime Times reporter, spun the message Friday this way: "The Gray Lady feels the agony of political defeat — in her reputation and in her wallet. After taking a beating almost as brutal as Hillary Clinton’s, the New York Times on Friday made an extraordinary appeal to its readers to stand by her."

Fox News took a similar tack, as did Trump, who posted a tweet Sunday asserting that "The @nytimes sent a letter to their subscribers apologizing for their BAD coverage of me." PolitiFact, a fact-checking site, wrote Tuesday, "We rate Trump’s claim False."


The Times responded to the claims on two fronts. To the claims that it had lost subscribers because of its coverage, the Times Co. tweeted on Sunday that in fact it had experienced a surge in new subscriptions.

In addition, referring to Scarborough and Rutenberg, spokeswoman Eileen Murphy acknowledged to Journal-isms Tuesday that the news organization "did reach out and initiate Jim's appearance and the 'apology.' " (video)


"Jim Rutenberg is with us now," Scarborough said on air Tuesday. "And of course, Jim, your August column got a lot of attention. I actually went on afterwards and incorrectly said that you were actually saying that the president's responsibility was actually to work against Trump. That is incorrect. . . ."


The original Rutenberg rant and the Sulzberger-Baquet letter followed a Nov. 9 column by Liz Spayd, the public editor, making the now-familiar argument that the mainstream media did not report enough on working class whites during the campaign.

". . . as The Times begins a period of self-reflection, I hope its editors will think hard about the half of America the paper too seldom covers," Spayd wrote.


"The red state America campaign coverage that rang the loudest in news coverage grew out of Trump rallies, and it often amplified the voices of the most hateful. One especially compelling video produced with footage collected over months on the campaign trail, captured the ugly vitriol like few others. That’s important coverage. But it and pieces like it drowned out the kind of agenda-free, deep narratives that could have taken Times readers deeper into the lives and values of the people who just elected the next president. . . ."

Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune was one of the few to challenge that line of thinking.


Chapman wrote Friday, "If the media assumed Clinton would win, it was not because reporters forgot that there were people who favored Trump. There was an endless supply of stories featuring interviews with them. Each of his rallies drew throngs of journalists — who might have done a better job of learning the views of Trump supporters if the campaign had not confined the press to areas separate from the rest of the audience.

"When [Britain's Piers] Morgan says 'regular Americans' love Trump, he's using the term in an odd way. It's worth noting that Trump didn't even get more votes than Clinton, who beat him by nearly 400,000 votes nationally. You can't get as many votes as she did without attracting at least a few ordinary folks.


"Nor did Trump capture the working class. Among voters with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, Clinton beat him by 9 points. But when Morgan refers to 'regular Americans,' he obviously means 'white Americans.' Working-class blacks and small-town Hispanics are irregular and thus irrelevant.

"It never occurs to the media-bashers that rural, white, blue-collar guys may be insulated from real Americans, a lot of whom live in big cities. Metropolitan New York alone has 18 million people — more than Wisconsin, Michigan and New Hampshire combined. . . ."


. . . 15 Journalism Groups Concerned About Access

"In a highly unusual move, President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday night left his Manhattan residence without notifying the reporters covering him or giving any indication of where he was going," Alexandra Jaffe and Ali Vitali reported Wednesday for NBC News.


"The maneuver seemed to deliberately limit access to the media.

"The only way the press eventually ascertained his whereabouts was after a Bloomberg reporter, who happened to be dining at the 21 Club, tweeted a photo of Trump and some of his transition team in the Midtown steakhouse."


They also wrote, "With his Tuesday night actions, the Trump Administration is shaping up to be the least accessible to the public and the press in modern history. . . . "

Fifteen journalism organizations sent Trump a letter Wednesday expressing concern.


"We expect that you, as the new leader of the free world, will preserve longstanding traditions that ensure coverage of the Trump presidency. The idea of a press pool that covers all of the president's movements is one that dates back to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration. Every president of both parties has treated this important tradition with respect.

"The role of the press pool is critically important to our country whose citizens depend on and deserve to know what the president is doing. This isn't about access for the press itself; it's about access for Americans in diverse communities across the country. Your constituents receive information from a variety of platforms to learn about what our president is doing. . . "

Credit: Steve Sack/Star Tribune, Minneapolis

Supporters of Trump Aide Bannon Deny Racism

"On CNN Monday night, Breitbart News senior editor-at-large Joel Pollak issued a challenge to anchor Don Lemon: 'Can you name for me, Don, one white nationalist article at Breitbart? Just one,' ” Callum Borchers reported Tuesday for the Washington Post.


“ 'Yeah,' Lemon replied. 'There's an article defending the alt-right.'

"Since President-elect Donald Trump announced Sunday that his chief strategist in the White House would be former Breitbart chairman Stephen K. Bannon, the conservative news site has defiantly resisted the 'white nationalist' label. In fact, Breitbart said in a statement to the Hill on Tuesday that it is 'preparing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against a major media company for its baseless and defamatory claim that Breitbart News is a "white nationalist website." '


"Perhaps you, like Breitbart, are wondering how people would get that impression. In the interest of research, we took a closer look at the evidence, beginning with the article Lemon cited. Published on March 29, the piece in question was called 'An establishment conservative's guide to the alt-right.' . . .”

"And here are a few more headlines that have been featured on Breitbart:


"Pollak claimed that the 'guide' was 'not defense or advocacy' but was merely about 'explaining the alt-right to mainstream conservatives.' That's a stretch, to say the least. . . ."

Meanwhile, during an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep Wednesday morning, Pollak "accused NPR of being The Real Racists," Alex Griswold reported for Mediaite.


He added, "When Inskeep continued to press Pollak on an article which defended the Confederacy as 'a patriotic and idealistic cause' having nothing to do with slavery, the Breitbart editor threw the accusation of racism back at him: 'NPR is taxpayer-funded and has an entire section of its programming, a regular feature called CodeSwitch, which from my perspective is a racist program. I’m looking here at the latest article — which aired on NPR — calling the election results "nostalgia for a whiter America" ' . . . "

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a congressionally created entity, passes tax money to public radio and TV stations.


"While NPR receives little of this money directly, NPR-affiliated stations rely on it for about 15 percent of their budgets," Paul Farhi explained in 2012 in the Washington Post. "They, in turn, pay programming fees to NPR that comprise about 45 percent of NPR’s budget. . . ."

Brazile Says CNN Didn’t Let Her Defend Herself

Donna Brazile, interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and former CNN commentator, told a Roanoke, Va., audience on Monday that CNN never gave her the chance to defend herself before firing her on Oct. 14.


Hacked emails published by WikiLeaks indicated that Brazile gave the Hillary Clinton campaign questions that were to be asked at a March 13 town hall meeting sponsored by CNN and TV One during the presidential primary season.

"I wish CNN had given me some other things, like the ability to defend myself rather than ripping me a new one,” Brazile said at Hollins University, according to Carmen Forman, reporting for the Roanoke Times.


Michael M. Grynbaum reported Oct. 31 for the New York Times, “Ms. Brazile, a veteran political analyst for the network, was already on leave from CNN since becoming interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee." David Folkenflik reported then for NPR, Brazile “says she resigned rather than get in an extended dispute with CNN over her role at the network.”

Forman wrote Monday, "Brazile’s email to the Clinton campaign the day before the debate said one of the questions would come from a woman suffering from lead poisoning who would ask what the candidates would do to help the people of Flint, Michigan. An earlier leaked email seemed to show Brazile forwarding a question about the death penalty.


"Brazile did not directly deny the allegations at Hollins, but she fired back at CNN, saying she never got on Clinton’s campaign airplane or prepped the candidate for any of the debates. She also derided WikiLeaks, which leaked the damning emails, by repeatedly calling the organization WikiLies.

“ 'CNN never gave me a question,' she said talking about the debate questions. . .”


Hadas Gold wrote for Politico on Oct. 31, "it appears that guest-moderator Roland Martin from TV One may have shared his contributions to the questions with Brazile. . . ."

Amy Alexander, The Root: Miss Ann’s Revenge

Christian Arana, Latino Rebels: Nice Try, SNL, But Who Is Laughing Now?

Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America: Of Course The Press Played A Major Role In Trump’s Victory


Philip Bump, Washington Post: Donald Trump’s gripes about the New York Times are usually about stories that are shown to be accurate

Jose A. DelReal, Washington Post: Trump draws sharp rebuke, concerns over newly appointed chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon


Christopher Dickey and Asawin Suebsaeng, Daily Beast: Steve Bannon’s Dream: A Worldwide Ultra-Right

Sydney Ember, New York Times: Can Libel Laws Be Changed Under Trump?

Jason Johnson, The Root: The Black Press Faces New Reality in the Era of Trump

Maya A. Jones, the Undefeated: Here are the best opinions and reactions to Trump’s election (Nov. 9)


Andrew Lapin, current.org: Shell-shocked by Trump win, public radio’s politics all-stars share thoughts on election coverage

Cristina López G., Media Matters for America: What Spanish-Language Media Can Teach CNN About Immigration Coverage


Wendy S. Loughlin with Hub Brown, Steve Davis, Aileen Gallagher and Joel Kaplan, S.I. Newhouse School Of Public Communications, Syracuse University: Election 2016: What lessons should journalists — and journalism educators — learn?

Michele McPhee, Boston Globe: The Hidden Trump Voter: Police (Nov. 9)

NBC News: Trump's Pick of Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist Sparks Backlash

Geneva Overholser, genevaoverholser.com: Journalism Failed Us Badly. Here's How.

Dana Priest, Columbia Journalism Review: Eight steps reporters should take before Trump assumes office


Jorge Ramos, Time: Surprise Us, Mr. Trump. Show Us Your Big Heart.

Sam Reisman, Mediaite: Alt-Right Leaders Threaten to Blacklist Any Journalists Who Don’t Condemn the Twitter Ban


Gyasi Ross, Indian Country Today Media Network: A Few Thoughts on The Election and What President Trump Means for Indian Country

Jim Rutenberg, New York Times: Where Will Trump Stand on Press Freedoms?

Eric Sasson, New Republic: Blame Trump’s Victory on College-Educated Whites, Not the Working Class


Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News: Bernie Sanders to Trump: Rescind appointment of ‘racist’ Bannon

Brian Stelter and Jill Disis, CNN Money: President-elect Trump's Sunday morning tweetstorm at the New York Times


Nikki Usher, mediashift.org: Why Journalism Educators Need to Look at our Responsibilities Post-Election

Steph Yin, Fusion: Exit polls were wrong about how many Asian Americans supported Trump


Randall Yip, AsAmNews: Asian American Votes Are Worth Less than Whites and Black Votes

Ever Interviewed: 29% of Whites, 19% of Nonwhites

"Being interviewed by a local journalist provides an opportunity to have a voice in the civic life and local news ecosystem of one’s community," Jessica Mahone reported Friday for the Pew Research Center. "But it remains a relatively rare experience, as only about a quarter of U.S. adults (26%) say they have ever done so. And among those who have, not everyone’s voice is equally likely to be heard.


"Whites, as well as college graduates and those with higher incomes, are more likely than nonwhites to have spoken with or been interviewed by a local journalist, according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

"About three-in-ten whites (29%) say they have ever spoken with or been interviewed by a local journalist or reporter, compared with 19% of nonwhites. (Nonwhite includes all racial and ethnic groups except non-Hispanic white.) This difference is particularly striking given that nonwhites generally are more engaged consumers of local news than whites. For instance, while 43% of nonwhites follow local news very closely, only a third of whites say the same — a similar pattern to what we found in our 2015 study of local news habits in three cities. . . ."

Diane Rehm and Joshua Johnson (Credit: Madeleine Poore/WAMU)

Joshua Johnson to Succeed NPR's Diane Rehm

"As longtime public radio talk show host Diane Rehm retires, her midday slot will be filled with a new show called 1A, NPR member station WAMU announced Wednesday," Camila Domonoske reported Wednesday for NPR.


"The new live two-hour show — with a name reminiscent of a newspaper front page, as well as the First Amendment — will be hosted by Joshua Johnson, co-creator and host of the radio series Truth Be Told about race in America.

"1A will launch at the start of the new year, with the first episode airing Jan. 2 at 10 a.m. ET. On the radio and as a podcast, the show will seek to build on Rehm's 'legacy of civil dialogue and analysis,' WAMU writes.


The Rehm show reaches 2,849,000 people each week, according to NPR, quoting Nielsen ratings.

Paul Farhi added in the Washington Post, "WAMU General Manager J.J. Yore said Johnson wasn’t on the station’s initial list of candidates. But his stock rose after his on-air tryout over two days in late September. 'He brought an openness to his sound, a kind of curiosity . . . He was at ease and put his guests at ease,' Yore said.


After that tryout, Yore told Journal-isms, "We are heavily emphasizing diversity in our search for a successor to Diane Rehm — not that that predetermines the outcome." Other guest hosts of color included Ray Suarez, Indira Lakshmanan, Derek McGinty, Nia-Malika Henderson, Maria Hinojosa and Michel Martin.

WAMU: Meet Diane Rehm’s Successor: Joshua Johnson (video)


A tribute Monday on the "PBS NewsHour"

Community Tributes for Gwen Ifill Planned Friday

"Trailblazing journalist Gwen Ifill will be remembered at a pair of events this weekend at Metropolitan A.M.E. Church, 1518 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20005," the church announced on Wednesday.


"Ifill, a Metropolitan member since 1989, passed away Monday at 61. She was the co-anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour and moderator of Washington Week with Gwen Ifill, the longest-running primetime news and public affairs program on television. . . .

"Community tributes are scheduled for Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Metropolitan, with a service of celebration Saturday at 11 a.m.


"The family requests in lieu of flowers that donations be made to establish a Memorial Scholarship fund at Metropolitan AME Church. . . ."

Speakers had not been finalized, spokesman Dakarai Aarons told Journal-isms by email on Wednesday.


Elizabeth Adetiba, Poynter Institute: I was unsure about journalism. Then, Gwen Ifill told me ‘you better go for it’

Anna Almendrala, Huffington Post: Gwen Ifill’s Death Shows We Need Better Endometrial Cancer Research


Cassie Chew, alldigitocracy.org: Remembering Gwen Ifill

Jelani Cobb, New Yorker: Postscript: Gwen Ifill

Eric Deggans with Michele Norris and Vanessa Williams, NPR: Veteran Washington Journalist Gwen Ifill Dies At 61


Amos Gelb, the Hill: Gwen Ifill absence will be felt in politics and journalism

Stephanie Guzman, rebeccaaguilar.wordpress.com: Gwen Ifill taught me not to be afraid to ask the tough questions


Jim Hook, Public Opinion, Chambersburg, Pa.: Gwen Ifill was a Chamberburg girl 50 years ago

Gene Meyer, eugenelmeyer.com: Missing Gwen Ifill

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Gwen Ifill's relentless optimism energized her success


Rochelle Riley, Ebony: Remembering Gwen Ifill, a Trailblazing Journalist and a Dear Friend

Sam Roberts, New York Times: Gwen Ifill, Political Reporter and Co-Anchor of ‘PBS NewsHour,’ Dies at 61


Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune: Gwen Ifill fought racism, sexism with imagination

Carlett Spike, Columbia Journalism Review: Prize recognizes Gwen Ifill for courage and integrity


Detroit News Offers Buyout to All in Newsroom

"The Detroit News is offering a buyout to all of its editorial employees in an attempt to meet its 2017 budget requirement, Managing Editor Gary Miles confirmed to Crain's on Tuesday," Dustin Walsh reported for Crain's Detroit Business.


"In a memo obtained by Crain's sent Tuesday on behalf of Editor and Publisher Jonathan Wolman, buyouts are offered to everyone in the newsroom regardless of age and duties. It's unknown how many need to volunteer to take a buyout to meet the budget goal. Without enough volunteers, the newspaper likely would have to begin layoffs. . . ."

Walsh also wrote, "The Detroit News' owner, Digital First Media, has a 5 percent equity stake in the joint business partnership that operates the advertising, circulation, printing and delivery of The News and rival Detroit Free Press. The partnership, which operates under a joint operating agreement approved by the U.S. Justice Department, maintains separate newsrooms, both of which are financed by the partnership's revenues. . . ."


Chris O'Shea, FishbowlNY: Daily News Offers Buyouts (Nov. 10)

Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post: Chasing millennials and profits, Univision restructures and lays off at least 200


Short Takes

"In a stunning decision that shook police and protesters alike, the officer who fatally shot Philando Castile was charged with manslaughter in his death — likely the first Minnesota officer in modern memory charged for such an incident," Tad Vezner, Mara H. Gottfried, Sarah Horner and Tory Cooney reported Wednesday for the Pioneer Press in St. Paul. Pioneer Press columnist Rubén Rosario approved.


"There were at least eight fatal police shootings of Native Americans in October," Stephanie Woodard reported Wednesday for the Indian Country Today Media Network. “ 'I’m overwhelmed,' said Marlee Kanosh, Paiute Tribe of Utah. Her Facebook page, Native Lives Taken By Police, is a source for information on police violence affecting indigenous people. . . ."

"Black motorists in Maryland are stopped and searched by police at higher rates than their white counterparts, despite being less likely in many jurisdictions to be found with illicit drugs or other contraband, according to statewide traffic stop data," Kevin Rector reported Wednesday for the Baltimore Sun.


"NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt made it to the set in time for Tuesday’s newscast – but it was close," Mark Joyella reported Tuesday for TVNewser. " 'This just gave me a panic attack,' joked MSNBC host Chris Hayes, who — like many of Holt’s 327,000 Twitter followers — tracked his last-minute dash by plane, car and subway. Dubbed the 'Race to 30 Rock' on Twitter, Holt’s saga began in Boston around 4:30 p.m. ET. . . ."

Adrian Carrasquillo

"BuzzFeed is making some big changes in its Washington D.C. bureau, naming Adrian Carrasquillo White House reporter, Kate Nocera D.C. bureau chief and having John Stanton move to a new role as senior national correspondent," Alex Weprin reported Wednesday for Politico.

"William (Bill) Shearer, a longtime, successful radio executive in Los Angeles, passed away November 1st, after a lengthy illness," the Los Angeles Sentinel reported on Nov. 9. ". . . Over nearly four decades, Shearer held sales, executive, and ownership positions at several radio stations, including: KLOS, KAGB, KACE, KGFJ/KUTE, and KGFJ." The National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters added Wednesday, "In addition to his ground-breaking, successful roles in radio, Bill Shearer was active in the community working with organizations advancing media, business and civil rights opportunities for African Americans. . . ."


"Despite double-digit percentage decreases in U.S. violent and property crime rates since 2008, most voters say crime has gotten worse during that span, according to a new Pew Research Center survey," John Gramlich reported Wednesday for the Pew Research Center. "The disconnect is nothing new, though: Americans’ perceptions of crime are often at odds with the data. . . ."

"The editorial staff at Fusion, a digital site owned by Univision’s Fusion Media Group, has voted to join the Writers Guild of America East," Dave McNary reported Friday for Variety. "The guild announced on Friday that more than 90% of Fusion’s 70-member bargaining unit voted in favor of unionization. . . ."


Veteran journalist Ronald A. Taylor will become a fellow at the School of Global Journalism & Communication at Morgan State University, "working with students and faculty on various reporting projects based in the Digital Newsroom," Jackie Jones, chair of the Department of Multimedia Journalism, told Journal-isms by email Wednesday. The school partners with West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media in a social justice reporting project and with ESPN's The Undefeated on the image of black female athletes and the path of black coaches to the NFL. It also guides students in its Baltimore Reporting Project.

Here's one for classes studying appropriate and inappropriate uses of "off the record": A network spokeswoman told Journal-isms this week, "Off the record, sorry we can’t be more helpful, but we decline to comment."

Share This Story

Get our newsletter