January 23, 2017

Women’s March on Washington. Photo: Mobilus In Mobili

In September, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet spoke on an “Inside the Timespodcast about the publication’s duty to call out candidate Trump’s untrue statements. This was certainly the case with the Times’s coverage of his first full day in office, when the paper published at least three articles about the president’s false claims regarding the size of the crowd at his inauguration and the origin of his feud with the CIA: “White House Pushes ‘Alternative Facts.’ Here are the Real Ones;” “With False Claims, Trump Attacks Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift;” and “Trump’s Inauguration vs. Obama’s: Comparing the Crowds.” The paper also dedicated significant coverage to the women’s marches against Trump that took place all over the world on Saturday, including an article with a headline that seems almost tailor-made to infuriate him: “Crowd Scientists Say Women’s March in Washington Had 3 Times More People Than Trump’s Inauguration.” 

At the Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan writes that the most important thing about the administration’s statements on Saturday was not necessarily the lies, but rather the hostile tone toward the press. Sullivan implores reporters not to “rise to the bait”: “Trump wants a flat-out war with the nation’s media for one well-calculated reason: Because he believes it will continue to serve his political purposes, as it has for months.”

After New York Times public editor Liz Spayd argued that the paper was “too timid in its decisions not to publish the material it had” concerning Russian connections to the Trump campaign, Baquet told the Washington Post that she “doesn’t understand what happened.” Baquet said that the Times “reported the hell out of this . . . and we could prove nothing more than that there was some packets of information from a bank to Trump Tower. Sorry, Liz is just wrong. That is not journalism. It is typing.”

The Guardian profiles Paul Auster and talks to him about his new book, 4 3 2 1, which, he says, he wrote with a feeling of imminent doom: “I started the book at 66, which is the year my father dropped dead of a heart attack. And once I passed that boundary, I began to live in a very creepy world. . . . There was a thought of sudden death in my head.” Now that he’s finished the novel and emerged from his “bunker,” Auster’s thoughts are turning to what his role as a writer in the Trump era should be. He’s taking over as president of PEN America early in 2018, and says, “I’m going to speak out as often as I can, otherwise I don’t think I can live with myself.”

Novelist Yaa Gyasi is also reflecting on the Trump presidency. She writes that since the election, a Ghanaian proverb—“the ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people”—has been on her mind. “Something deeply private, like the filth in our homes, has been made public,” she writes. Gyasi wonders how so many Americans didn’t see the election results coming. “Either many Americans did not know that the house was in disarray, or they knew but hoped that the disorder wouldn’t get out, be seen, like laundry shoved into a spare cupboard before the guests arrive,” Gyasi writes. “Here we are now, our dirty laundry visible and stinking and everywhere.”

By deleting a misspelled tweet, Trump may have violated both the Freedom of Information Act and the Presidential Records Act. After writing on his personal account that he was “honered” to serve America, both that tweet and a corrected follow-up tweet were deleted. Although it might seem like a minor issue, Rhett Jones writes that “history might tell a different story. If this man is so careless with his official communication less than 24 hours after becoming president, we’ll need the documentation to show that.”

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