The publisher of the New York Times, A.G. Sulzberger, responded to a Trump tweet from this morning, saying he "implored" President Donald Trump at a private White House meeting this month to reconsider his broad attacks on journalists, calling the president’s anti-press rhetoric "not just divisive but increasingly dangerous" and that Trump's assault on the media is "putting lives at risk"
The war of words started on Sunday morning, when Trump tweeted that he "had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times. Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, “Enemy of the People.” Sad!” Trump wrote.A.G. Sulzberger
A few hours later, Sulzberger issued a statement in which he said he decided to comment publicly after Trump revealed their off-the-record meeting held on July 20, noting that "Trump’s aides requested that the meeting be off the record" but with Trump tweeting this morning "he has put the meeting on the record, so A.G. has decided to respond to the president’s characterization of their conversation, based on detailed notes A.G. and James took."
Sulzberger - who said said he accepted the meeting because Times publishers have a history of meeting with presidential administrations and other public figures who have concerns with the publication’s coverage of them - said his main purpose for accepting the meeting was to "raise concerns about the president’s deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric."
"I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous."
Sulzberger also told Trump that that although the phrase “fake news” is untrue and harmful, "I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists “the enemy of the people.” I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence."
Sulzberger, who went to the White House with James Bennet, who oversees that NYT's editorial page, said he stressed "that this is particularly true abroad, where the president’s rhetoric is being used by some regimes to justify sweeping crackdowns on journalists."
"I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press."
In conclusion, the NYT owner said that "throughout the conversation I emphasized that if President Trump, like previous presidents, was upset with coverage of his administration he was of course free to tell the world. I made clear repeatedly that I was not asking for him to soften his attacks on The Times if he felt our coverage was unfair. Instead, I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful...