Top WashPost Editor Martin Baron Rants About Team Trump 'Disqualifying' the Press

March 31st, 2019 7:46 PM

Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron was interviewed on stage at Washington & Lee University on Tuesday, and went full "Democracy Dies in Darkness" after making jokes about President Trump's gaffe of calling Apple boss Tim Cook "Tim Apple." 

To Baron, the Trump administration isn't just disparaging journalists, they're "trying to disqualify" all "independent arbiters of fact," from the press to scientists to law enforcement officers and intelligence agents, and even doctors. Baron might be telling us who the Post is using as their anonymous sources, which are worth questioning as they rain fire on the Trump administration in the "objective" pages of the Post. 

MARTIN BARON: Why can't we just accept, you know, facts? But we have a situation these days where  people won't even accept basic facts. We can't even agree on the basic facts, and that's a real risk in our society, particularly in a democracy, where you hope to have a democracy [huh?], that you can disagree and should disagree about what our policies should be, what the prescriptions for the problems we have in society should be, your analysis can differ, but fundamentally we have to agree on a baseline set of facts, like what happened yesterday? And at the moment, we can't seem to agree on that, that everything is viewed through a partisan lens, and that's really disturbing. And the way that sometimes people view it is 'Well, it's a fact if it's good for my tribe, and it's not a fact if it's bad for my tribe, and that's not what a fact is. 

And we have a situation now where an administration is trying to disqualify the press as an independent arbiter of fact, and not just disqualify the press as an independent arbiter of fact, but disqualify others as well, including scientists, including historians, including law enforcement, intelligence agencies, you name it. Medicine, doctors, and disqualify all independent arbiters of fact, and say that only we are the tellers of the truth. look to us for the facts. And that's just not the way the world should work. 

Speaking of a "partisan lens," in the same interview, Baron refused to accept the fact that Robert Mueller closed his probe of Russian collusion by declining to prosecute anyone for collusion.

BARON: We never in our reporting pre-supposed what the conclusions of the Mueller investigation would our reporting, in our newsroom, we focused on the facts. and we never presupposed that there would be any particular conclusion, certainly not the kind of conclusion that the administration is trying to portray all media as having come to. They're trying to, they're picking an extreme from let's say, one commentator who may have suggested that Trump was a Russian asset. We never said Trump was a Russian asset. We didn't suggest he was a Russian asset. 

We didn't do any of that. We stuck to the facts, and when you look at the facts, they themselves are quite stunning. The number of charges that were brought -- Russian interference in an American election with the intent of helping one of the candidates, it's extraordinary, and deserves an investigation, by the way. And the fact that people who were close to Trump have been either found guilty, or pleaded guilty in some charges outstanding. 

But they didn't plead guilty to colluding with the Russians. 

While the Left accused Trump of treason, Baron can't stand Trump accusing the press of treason: "To suggest that holding our government officials accountable is somehow treason, that we hold the president accountable, that that's somehow treason, you know, that's total nonsense. It's anti-constitutional, not pro-constitutional." 

At the very end of these remarks, moderator Alecia Swasy turned to audience questions. Only one of them was challenging. The first one asked if the Post's mistakes in their Covington-kids coverage is going to reinforce Trump's rhetoric about the media. Baron shot back: "I'm not going to accept the premise of your question, and I can't discuss that case, because it is a case in court, and so I can't talk about it, I'm afraid."

So much for accountability.