Brian Stelter's 'Fox & Friends'-Style Softballs to New York Times Executive Editor

April 9th, 2018 11:19 AM

In his e-mail newsletter late Sunday night, Brian Stelter hailed the results of his Sunday lovefest for the media elite:

President Trump's attacks against newsrooms like the NYT are "out of control," NYT exec editor Dean Baquet told me on Sunday's Reliable Sources. His remarks came a few hours after the president likened the WashPost to a "poorly written novel" in a tweet that he had to delete and repost because of a mistake.

"It's out of control and his advisors should tell him to stop, because it's actually affecting the civic life and debate of the country," Baquet said.

"I think the president missed the part of high school civics where the First Amendment was explained, and where the role of free and independent press was explained," Baquet said...

Baquet and Stelter somehow think the First Amendment doesn't include criticism of liberal newspapers or cable networks. They also don't notice conservatives laugh when these Democratic Party organs call themselves "independent." This was the “key quote,” Stelter said:

Trump was on Twitter praising Jesse Watters and trashing the Post before condemning the latest chemical attack in Syria on Sunday morning.

Cue Baquet: "If he creates a culture where Fox and Friends and Jesse Watters are regarded as serious journalism, and The New York Times and The Washington Post are not," he will have a "longstanding, harmful effect on the country."

Has Stelter ever considered that when it comes to liberal media barons like Baquet, HE is as soft and supportive as the demonized Fox & Friends? Look at the actual softballs Baquet was pitched. Some of them weren't even questions. 

-- "I wonder, Dean, what do you think is the cumulative effect of more than a year of these [Trump] attacks?"

-- "Is it out of control?"

-- "Yes, The New York Times, The Post, CNN, The Journal all reports this stuff and turns out to be true. But here's the thing about you defending The Washington Post -- Usually you're their big rival, right? Normally, people expect you to battle The Washington Post. This is one of those areas where you find common ground."

-- "A couple of days ago, the White House indicated the president won't go to the correspondents' dinner against this year. I know The Times has been avoiding the dinner for a decade….Most news outlets still [go]. Do you think it means anything that he's not going again this year?"

-- "One of the questions I've seen on Twitter for you for this interview was about what it means to have the president criticizing The Times on a financial level. If we can put a couple of the stats on screen about the Times [Company's] 2017 earnings. Over a billion dollars in revenue, which I think is the number that might surprise some people. And you're at the point where you have 2.5 million digital-only subscriptions. How much of that is the Trump effect?"

-- "Is it surprising to you that the turmoil hasn't -- that we haven't seen more of a calming influence in the White House? It's been more than a year and the president is still promoting conspiracy theories about voter fraud, for example. I think the conventional wisdom might have been, oh, well, things will go a little calmer after a year."

None of these questions or statements were the slightest bit challenging to Baquet or the Times. They were fan-boy questions. They sound like an interview that Times public relations execs dream about. "Oh Dean, your paper is so true. And so profitable. And yet, they criticize you? Are they out of control?"

The first question a "free and independent" show analyzing the media would ask Baquet is whether the use of anonymous sources is "out of control"? And whether anonymous sourcing undercuts newspaper credibility. How do we know a newspaper is "independent" if their sources are unknown to us?