President-elect Donald Trump sounded very much like presidential candidate Donald Trump on Sunday morning in a pair of misleading tweets about the New York Times.
According to the New York Times Co.'s latest earnings report, the number of print copies it sold in the third quarter was down from the same period in 2015, but the decline was more than offset by 116,000 new digital-only subscriptions. Overall, third-quarter circulation revenue rose 3 percent; through the first nine months of the year, circulation revenue was up 2.8 percent.
Since Trump launched his White House campaign in June 2015, digital-only news subscriptions to the Times have increased 35 percent, to more than 1.3 million.
Trump's suggestion that the Times is bleeding readers because of “very poor and highly inaccurate coverage” does not square with the numbers.
The president-elect's interpretation of a letter to subscribers as an apology for bad coverage is a stretch. Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. wrote Friday that one of the “inevitable questions” in the aftermath of the campaign is: “Did Donald Trump's sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters?”
“As we reflect on this week's momentous result, and the months of reporting and polling that preceded it, we aim to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism,” Sulzberger added.
Trump's tweet mirrored coverage of the letter in some conservative media outlets, which seized on portions of Sulzberger's message. “NY Times admits biased coverage on Trump,” read a headline on Newsmax. A headline on Breitbart News, chaired by Trump campaign chief executive Steve Bannon, read, “New York Times publisher promises to 'rededicate' paper to honest reporting.”
“Had the paper actually been fair to both candidates, it wouldn't need to rededicate itself to honest reporting,” Michael Goodwin wrote in the New York Post.
Yet Sulzberger's full letter makes clear that he was simply renewing a promise that he believes the Times fulfilled during the campaign.
“We believe we reported on both candidates fairly during the presidential campaign,” he wrote. “You can rely on the New York Times to bring the same level of fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team.”