In a meeting with New York Times journalists last week, President-elect Donald Trump led off by saying he had “been treated extremely unfairly” by the newspaper.
“I would say the Times was about the roughest of all,” Trump said, addressing Executive Editor Dean Baquet. “You could make the case The Washington Post was bad, but every once in a while I’d actually get a good article. Not often, Dean, but every once in a while.”
Well, Trump got a good article from the New York Times on Wednesday. On the front page. It was about a deal he struck with Carrier Corp. that will keep about 1,000 jobs in Indiana that had been slated for outsourcing to Mexico.
“Mr. Trump will be hard-pressed to alter the economic forces that have hammered the Rust Belt for decades,” the Times wrote, “but forcing Carrier and its parent company, United Technologies, to reverse course is a powerful tactical strike that will hearten his followers even before he takes office.”
The Times's article went on to say the agreement “signals that Mr. Trump is a different kind of Republican, willing to take on big business,” and suggested that the billionaire's business background puts him in a better position than President Obama to pull off such deal.
Oddly Trump, who often tweets complaints about articles he does not like, did not remark on this one.
The coverage is at odds with Trump's often-angry, anti-media rhetoric, which leaves his supporters with the mistaken impression that he never gets credit for his accomplishments. Reports on the job-saving agreement represent the first post-election proof that in the media, Trump will ultimately be judged on his performance as president.
Not all of the coverage has been glowing, of course. The Post's Wonkblog, for example, noted that the Carrier deal “comes with a huge asterisk.”
“The situation in Indianapolis highlights just how intractable the outflow of manufacturing jobs is in much of the nation,” Danielle Paquette wrote. “For every factory Trump publicly targets, there's another downsizing somewhere else, sometimes just around the corner.”
Mother Jones attached several asterisks of its own, including this one: “Compared to Carrier's 1,000 jobs, Obama's auto bailout saved something like 250,000 jobs at GM and Chrysler, and 1 million to 2 million total jobs throughout the entire automotive supply chain. Just sayin'.”
This is relevant context — the sort that Trump and his devotees should expect to see in comprehensive coverage of even the best news. It does not, however, change how the overall media narrative on Carrier is a good one for the incoming president.
To the extent that bashing the media is part of his shtick — and an effective part, at that — Trump probably won't change his approach. But if he is genuinely concerned about getting a fair shake when he takes office, he ought to be encouraged by the Carrier headlines.