The New York Times, CNN and Deliberate Omission in Journalism

June 22nd, 2019 4:00 PM

You can’t make this stuff up.

There —  in the pages not of the New York Times but rather the Wall Street Journal — was no less than the publisher of The Times, A.G. Sulzberger, as he blasted the President of the United States.

And in the very first paragraph Sulzberger misled readers. Here’s the paragraph:

“First it was ‘the failing New York Times.’ Then ‘fake news.’ Then ‘enemy of the people.’ President Trump’s escalating attacks on the New York Times have paralleled his broader barrage on American media. He’s gone from misrepresenting our business, to assaulting our integrity, to demonizing our journalists with a phrase that’s been used by generations of demagogues.”

Catch the reference to the idea that Trump assails the media  as “the enemy of the people?” And that he is “assaulting our integrity?” 

(For more on Sulzberger's column, see NewsBusters.)

Conveniently omitted by Mr. Sulzberger is any reference to this from the President in an August, 2018 interview with Fox and Friends co-host Ainsley Earhardt. Here’s the relevant clip as accurately reported by Mediaite. And here’s a written report as accurately reported by Real Clear Politics.

Headlines the Real Clear Politics story: “Trump: The Press Is Not At All The Enemy of the People, "Fake News" Is The Enemy Of The People.” 

The Real Clear story begins this way, with bold print supplied:

“'Fox & Friends' exclusive: President Trump speaks out on the Michael Cohen plea deal, Paul Manafort guilty charges, his frustrations with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Trump's war against the press.

“'Is the press the enemy of the people?’ Fox host Ainsley Earhardt asked. 

‘No, not at all,’ Trump said. ‘But the fake news is. And the fake news is comprised of -- it's a lot. It's a big chunk, Okay? Somebody said, 'What's the chunk?' I said, '80 percent.' It's a lot. It's a lot.’

If I do something well, it's not reported, other than in the 20 percent. I mean, the New York Times cannot write a good story about me. They're crazed. They're like lunatics,” Trump said.”

So right there - captured on video - is Trump being asked directly “Is the press the enemy of the people?” And his response is direct: “No, not at all. But the fake news is…”

This was not an insignificant story. It made headlines with accurate reporting of his remarks not just in Real Clear Politics and Mediaite and the U.K.’s Daily Mail. But also, in of all places, The Washington Post

Where did this story not appear? You guessed it. In The New York Times. If one goes directly to the Times’ own website and searches for “Trump and Ainsley Earhardt interview” a solitary story concerning that interview pops up. The headline

Trump’s Inaccurate Claims About Cohen, Obama and Campaign Finance

There was not a single reference to Trump’s saying that fake news is the enemy of the people. Nor was there any reference to Trump saying this:  

“I mean, the New York Times cannot write a good story about me. They're crazed. They're like lunatics.”

All of which illustrates exactly Trump’s point. In this case this is a splendid example of “omission journalism” — journalism by deliberate omission, with the Times simply refusing to cover a story that criticizes … the Times. So Mr. Sulzberger’s paper simply omitted what the President said to Ainsley Earhardt on fake news being the enemy of the people and his sharp criticisms of the Times itself  to instead focus on a “fact check” of his remarks on Michael Cohen, former President Obama and campaign finance.

Where else have we seen this exact same kind of “omission journalism” just this past week? Right here, as headlined in The Hill: “CNN cuts away from Trump rally after crowd chants 'CNN sucks.'”

The Hill story begins, bold print supplied:

“CNN cut away from its coverage of President Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign kickoff Tuesday night shortly after he spurred the crowd to chant “CNN sucks.”

Just minutes into his rally speech Tuesday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., Trump referred to his 2015 campaign announcement as “a defining moment in America history,” adding to “ask them right there” as he pointed to the media covering the event. 

The crowd then chanted “CNN sucks,” a line that has become a staple at Trump campaign events, before Trump said that “there is a lot of fake news back there” and that the “amount of press we have tonight reminds me of the Academy Awards before it went political and their ratings went down the tubes.”

CNN then cut away from its live broadcast roughly six minutes in.”

For more on this, see NewsBusters

In other words? If the President —  not to mention his supporters in a televised rally — dares to criticize a specific media outlet by name and criticize them as fake news, the outlet in question — the Times in the case of the 2018 Ainsley Earhardt Trump interview or CNN in the case of this week’s rally - then the response is no coverage. “Omission journalism.” 

Which is to say in the case of Mr. Sulzberger’s paper, the paper’s motto of “All the News Fit to Print” is, if the news involves presidential criticism of the Times, blatantly false. A fake motto for fake news.

There was more in that Sulzberger op-ed. Oh so much more. 

But the breathtaking “omission journalism” of that Sulzberger op-ed opener, not to mention at CNN this week, illustrates exactly why the President - and millions of Americans - no longer trust the “mainstream” media.

Sulzberger closed out his op-ed by saying this, bold print supplied:

“Over 167 years, through 33 presidential administrations, the Times has sought to serve America and its citizens by seeking the truth and helping people understand the world. There is nothing we take more seriously than doing this work fairly and accurately, even when we are under attack. Mr. Trump’s campaign against journalists should concern every patriotic American. A free, fair and independent press is essential to our country’s strength and vitality and to every freedom that makes it great”

Nice words. But in that op-ed opener it was crystal clear that Mr. Sulzberger didn’t mean a word he said.