In a series of tweets that don’t sound presidential, President-elect Donald Trump lashed out at the New York Times, calling the media giant “fools” and “failing.” An article in the Times that reported disarray in Trump’s transition team and a lack of contact with foreign leaders was apparently the trigger that set Trump off:
Australia, New Zealand, and more. I am always available to them. @nytimes is just upset that they looked like fools in their coverage of me.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2016
Trump has referred to the New York Times as “failing” before. But citizens and media outlets hoping for post-campaign detente between the president and the press saw that hope dashed this week. In another tweet, Trump continued with his characterization of “the failing @nytimes” — “failing” being an adjective he attaches to the Times the way he attached “crooked” to Hillary Clinton. There are no signs the Times will back down — it responded that subscriptions are actually up since the election. But Trump’s effectiveness in painting Clinton as “crooked” — merely by unrelentingly branding her “Crooked Hillary” — is a cautionary tale, especially in a post-truth environment. Trump’s aspersions may not have made Clinton crooked, but it made her lose. (Perception is “powerful stuff,” as Obama called Trump’s ascension.) Whether Trump can hobble the public perception of the Times’ integrity remains to be seen.* But the President-elect has certainly drawn a target on it.
*perhaps ironically, many liberals blame the New York Times for its soft coverage of Trump’s campaign.