Five days after his election victory, Donald Trump falsely claimed that the New York Times had issued an apology "for their BAD coverage" during the campaign. I wrote about the bogus assertion — and what the Times actually said — at the time.
The @nytimes sent a letter to their subscribers apologizing for their BAD coverage of me. I wonder if it will change - doubt it?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2016
As he often does, however, the president has continued to repeat an untrue statement. On Wednesday, for the fifth time, Trump tweeted about the Times' phantom apology.
Remember when the failing @nytimes apologized to its subscribers, right after the election, because their coverage was so wrong. Now worse!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2017
The failing @nytimes was forced to apologize to its subscribers for the poor reporting it did on my election win. Now they are worse!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2017
After being forced to apologize for its bad and inaccurate coverage of me after winning the election, the FAKE NEWS @nytimes is still lost!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2017
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2017
Now seems like a good time to revisit what I wrote about the Times' non-apology letter, back in November:
Times publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr. wrote [Nov. 11] 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.
Letter to NYT readers from Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Dean Baquet pic.twitter.com/jORqzx3BA9
— Sydney Ember (@melbournecoal) November 11, 2016
Trump's [original] 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, [formerly] 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.”
There was no apology in the letter, but the president is trying hard to convince voters that there was.