The New York Times, which has distinguished itself with fearless and fair coverage of the president, is one of the main targets of this assault. Unable to challenge the accuracy of our reporting, political operatives have been scouring social media and other sources to find any possibly embarrassing information on anyone associated with The Times, no matter their rank, role or actual influence on our journalism. Their goal is to silence critics and undermine the public’s faith in independent journalism.

This represents an escalation of an ongoing campaign against the free press. For years the president has used terms like “fake news” and “enemy of the people” to demonize journalists and journalism. Now, the political operatives behind this campaign will argue that they are “reporting” on news organizations in the same way that news organizations report on elected officials and other public figures. They are not. They are using insinuation and exaggeration to manipulate the facts for political gain.