Having trouble figuring out where Donald Trump stands? It’s not your own failure to calculate — it’s that the President-elect keeps feeding different data into your formulas. After spending months ripping the New York Times — still the country’s de facto paper of record — as biased and ineffectual Trump visited the Times yesterday and changed his tune. Kind of. Trump has taken to attaching the adjective “failing” to the New York Times at every opportunity, using the same tactic he used when attaching “crooked” to Hillary Clinton. It’s a simple strategy: if he chips away at the perception of trust in the organization, its criticism of him — even when fact-based — becomes infected with doubt. It’s the strategy big oil allegedly used to cast doubt on climate change: discredit the claims and the claimers, undermine their authority.
But Trump also wants to use the New York Times to his advantage — because it still has power. So while publicly — and consistently — referring to the Times as “failing,” in the meeting at the Times headquarters Trump said “I have great respect for the New York Times. I have tremendous respect.” (As reported by Mike Grynbaum at the Times.) Trump also called the Times a “a great great American jewel — world jewel.” Donald Trump, btw, was elected because he was a man who in the opinion of many voters “tells it like it is.” But which way is it?
— Julie Davis (@juliehdavis) November 22, 2016