In fact, Trump and Xi had talked on the phone Thursday night. “Fake news!” Trump howled on Twitter.
It turns out there is a simple explanation for why the newspaper in Trump's hand did not reflect his conversation with Xi: The paper was printed before the White House told the media about the phone call. A snowstorm that battered the Northeast Thursday prevented a more up-to-date edition from reaching the president's desk.
“The original story published [online] at 9:03 last night,” the Times explained in a statement. “The story was updated at 11:35, after the White House readout on the call came at 11:04. The first national edition (delivered in D.C.) went to print before the update, and there was not a second national edition last night because of the snowstorm. The city editions (in New York) did have the updated story. And the updated story has obviously been online since 11:35 last night.”
In his daily media briefing on Thursday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that “later today, the president will speak with the emir of Kuwait and the prime minister of Iraq. He will provide readouts — or we will provide readouts of those calls moving toward the conclusion of them.”
Spicer did not say anything about a phone call with Xi, however. Perhaps it had not been scheduled yet. But because the White House provided no notice, the Times did not know when it published its original report that the call would happen.
Had Trump considered the circumstances, he might have realized why his print edition contained outdated information. Or maybe he would have accused the Times of publishing fake news, anyway. After all, ripping the Times is one of his favorite hobbies.