If you take a look at the Letters to the Editor section of the Gray Lady this morning you’ll see something rather remarkable. The New York Times has made the bold decision to break form and publish an entire issue of submissions from people with positive opinions of the Trump administration. Some come from individuals who seem to genuinely like or admire Donald Trump. Others express some regrets over his attitude, remarks, tweets and general “Trumpiness” but really like his agenda, what he’s accomplished thus far and the things he’s still trying to do. It’s worth a look, though none of them are particularly unique compared to what you’ll see in many conservative outlets where you find Trump supporters.
What’s far more remarkable, however, is the introductory paragraph where the Times editorial board feels the need to explain to their readers why they felt compelled to take this extraordinary action. It’s short, so I’ll paste in the entire thing for you here. (Emphasis added)
The Times editorial board has been sharply critical of the Trump presidency, on grounds of policy and personal conduct. Not all readers have been persuaded. In the spirit of open debate, and in hopes of helping readers who agree with us better understand the views of those who don’t, we wanted to let Mr. Trump’s supporters make their best case for him as the first year of his presidency approaches its close. Tomorrow we’ll present some letters from readers who voted for Mr. Trump but are now disillusioned, and from those reacting to today’s letters and our decision to provide Trump voters this platform.
I highlighted those few sections for one important reason. Rather than simply accepting the letters at face value, we should note that what this single paragraph actually represents is an open admission to the world that, over the course of the past year (and most of the 2016 campaign, frankly), the New York Times has not been doing their job.
They begin by saying they’ve been “sharply critical of the Trump presidency.” That’s putting it mildly at best. A less charitable soul might say that their editorial board spent more than a year trying to get Hillary Clinton elected and then used the last year attempting to set up a slow motion coup to overturn the results of that election. But that’s really old hat at this point.
Far more telling was the next highlighted sentence. “Not all readers have been persuaded.” That’s the clearest admission yet. Rather than trying to simply inform readers of the events of the day and allow them to make up their own minds, the Gray Lady has been “attempting to persuade” people to not support the President. This is a dog-bites-man story for anyone who has been paying attention, but I’m rather gobsmacked to see them flatly admit it in print.
There’s also a bit of an apology included for their progressive base who may be shocked or disappointed to see them printing such opinions. They take the time to explain that they’re printing these awful sentiments which should normally never be acknowledged, “in hopes of helping readers who agree with us better understand” how anyone could possibly support the Trump administration. It’s as if they’re gathering the school children into the auditorium and preparing them to meet a group of aliens from another world who just landed their saucer in the schoolyard. This is a clear acknowledgment of an Us vs Them worldview, and the “us” in this case are those seeking to drive Trump from the White House. And “us” is led by the New York Times.
The Times closes their brief missive with what amounts to an apology in advance. They make it clear that they will be running a different sort of letters from the usual Trump haters in the coming days, along with other commentary, to explain, “our decision to provide Trump voters this platform.” They need to provide an explanation because this is so out of character for them. But since they are one of the most widely read newspapers in the country, the real question should be… weren’t you supposed to be providing both points of view all this time? Did it really require a complete break from the normal process for you to actually do your job?
Yes, this is a remarkable moment for the New York Times, but not for the reasons they suggest. I only hope that their regular readership doesn’t collapse from shock upon finding out that some people actually support the President, or at least his agenda. Based on recent polls and the current population of the country, there are somewhere in the range of 135 million people who don’t see the world the same way as the editors at the Gray Lady when it comes to this presidency. But if this newspaper was your only source of information you’d never know it. And judging by that editorial introduction, this situation is completely by design.