Sounds like the beginning of a new era of civility. It probably isn't.
The full message of the Times' editorial is that the newspaper is open-minded but still highly skeptical of Trump. And Trump does not appreciate skepticism.
As Chris Cillizza wrote on Tuesday, “the idea of the media as the intermediary between Trump and the public — reporting on and analyzing his proposals, contextualizing his statements, fact-checking him (and the Democratic politicians opposing him) — is totally lost on him. The media is to be judged solely on whether or not they, collectively, are being nice to the president.”
So Trump will like this part of the Times' editorial: “Hey, if President-elect Trump moderates his views, and then crystallizes those views in policies that, as he put it, 'save our country,' we will commend him on growth in office.”
He might also like this part: “We would applaud any sensible change of position, however arrived at.”
But he will hate the final paragraph: “Ronald Reagan used to say that in dealing with the Soviet Union, the right approach was to 'trust, but verify.' For now, that's also the right approach to take with Mr. Trump. Except, regrettably, for the trust part.”
In other words, the Times — like other news outlets — is not going to take Trump's statements at face value when he is in office. The paper will demand evidence, challenge claims and scrutinize proposals. Trump won't like it. We know this because in the past that sort of coverage has resulted in tweets like these:
When Trump said he wants to “turn it around,” he meant that he wants the Times to ease up. He did not mean that he wants to develop a fuller appreciation of the role of a free press in a democratic society. He is, after all, an incoming president who made weakening libel protections for journalists part of his campaign platform.
Pleasantries aside, there is little evidence that Trump's view of the media will change, nor is there any reason to think New York Times coverage will change. So don't expect a testy relationship to change, either.