Diana Marszalek 27 Feb 2019 // 7:22AM GMT
NEW YORK — In accepting a Page Center award for integrity in communications, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet deplored President Trump for calling the newspaper “a true enemy of the people,” further inciting anti-press sentiment that has increasingly put journalists at risk.
“I have no doubt that the president's anti-press rhetoric has inspired a sudden and frightening round of attacks on reporters for the Times and other news organizations including the holding of David Kirkpatrick, a reporter who was stopped on a routine trip to Cairo,” said Baquet.
“It used to be this was the one province where we could call any president for help if an American reporter was captured or injured in war. You could count on the White House to help, that every president no matter his party understood our role in the world even if they didn't always love us. Sadly I'm not sure who I would call today.”
Baquet, who received Page’s Foster Award for Integrity in Public Communication last Wednesday in New York, said he scrapped his prepared acceptance remarks on the importance of journalism after Trump’s tweet that morning “in which he went farther than he's ever gone in attacking the Times. He said, and I quote, 'The New York Times reporting is false they are a true enemy of the people’ so I chose not quite to stick to my script.
“Enemy of the people is not just a tossed off line that sounds good in a tweet. It is a particularly pernicious phrase with a deep history,” Baquet said, adding that the phrase has been used over time to quash opposition, including “physically annihilating people who disagree with a supreme leader.
“No president has ever uttered those words in public,” he said.
Baquet affirmed the importance of a free press (echoing Times publisher AG Sulzberger’s statement earlier in the day “that we were doing what the founders envisioned”) while challenging Trump’s lambasting of the news organization.
“What I would ask the president if he were here, how was it against the interests of the people when Times reporters reported on the abuses of Harvey Weinstein and provoked an international movement? How was it against the interests of the people when the Times reported that there are dozens of dams just like the one that collapsed, killing perhaps hundreds of people in Brazil? How is it against the interests of the people when Times reporters risk their lives to cover wars in Afghanistan and Syria? How is it against the interests of the people when the Times spends months reporting around the world to tell the tragic story of a young migrant woman who died tragically on the streets of New York?”
“And of course how is it against the interests of the American people when reporters spend more than a year digging into obscure hidden records to tell the story of the president's wealth and how his father actually made him a wealthy man, a fact that went against his lifelong narrative?”