Washington Post Editor: ‘We are Not at War’ with Trump, ‘We are at Work’
WASHINGTON – Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron said President Trump declared war on the press but the media is not at war with him, despite the “hostile” environment that’s been created.
“The president on his first day in office went to the CIA headquarters and he said, I have a war with the press. The reality is we don’t have a war with him: we are not at war, we are at work. We are doing our jobs every day the same way we have always done it. You talk about fact-checking; we’ve had a fact-checker at the Washington Post for a long time, well before the Trump administration. In fact, we doubled the size. We added an extra person,” Baron said during a discussion at the National Press Club moderated by former CBS correspondent Marvin Kalb on Monday evening.
“We have two people now doing it, and they have been doing fact-checks for a long time. They happen to be a little busier these days than they were in the past, I have to say, but they are doing the same sort of work every single day,” he added. “The very fact that the president is attacking us does not change things. We cannot just be reactive to that; we have to go out, gather the facts, provide the context and do it in an honorable and honest way, and that is what we endeavor to do every single day.”
At the CIA in January, Trump said, “I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on Earth.”
Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, said political journalists have to report “aggressively” and lay out the facts when the president says something wrong.
“I actually chose to use the word ‘lie’ on the front page of the New York Times, which was a controversial decision. And I think a lot of thoughtful editors would disagree with it, but we do not do it all the time – we did it that one time. I think the way that you cover him is, if he says ‘x’ and it is wrong, you report out why,” he said. “I think you report aggressively and I think you sort of lay out the facts. I think that is what we have been doing since I started as a reporter in 1977. I do not think it’s different; I think it’s faster, I think it’s even more aggressive.”
Kalb asked both Baron and Baquet to describe what’s different about covering Trump compared to past presidents.
“It’s is a more hostile environment, there is no question about that. He was attacking us during the campaign regularly, even withdrew credentials from the Washington Post during the primary and for a time during the general election as well,” Baron replied. “So this is what is different: it is a more threatening and hostile environment.”