The meeting was requested by President Trump who is perpetually unhappy over media coverage of him and his governance. But much of the media industry frets over the incessantly combative verbal attacks by the president.
NY Times Publisher Arthur Gregg (A.G.) Sulzberger (right), with his father Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.
US President Donald Trump sat down with the publisher of the New York Times to discuss media coverage of his administration and the president's persistent attacks on the media, deriding the media outlet as a purveyor of "fake news" and calling it the "enemy of the people."
Trump and the paper's publisher met on July 20, according to both the White House and the New York Times. Trump tweeted news of the meeting on Sunday.
"Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times," Trump tweeted. "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!"
Sulzberger issued a statement after Trump's tweet, saying he told the president that his vituperative attacks on the media were "not just divisive but increasingly dangerous."
He said authoritarian regimes were using Trump's rhetoric to justify attacks on journalists.
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With some foreign leaders using Trump's language "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," Sulzberger said.
Economic boon for media
The president frequently refers to the paper, a publication he reads regularly and to which he occasionally grants interviews, as the "failing New York Times."
But Trump's confrontational style of governing has been an economic boon to many media outlets, including the Times.
In May, the company reported first quarter revenue of nearly $415 million (€355 million), a 3.8 percent jump over the first quarter of 2017.
The president, who regularly bristles over negative media coverage, has called the news media the "enemy of the people" and frequently accuses it of spreading "fake news," which is the term he generally uses to describe any story he doesn't like.
Sulzberger, who ascended to the publisher's chair on January 1, replacing his father Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, said he made clear to Trump that he didn't want the president to stop speaking out about individual stories he might feel are unfair.
"Instead," Sulzberger said, "I implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country."
Whether the Trump-Sulzberger meeting will compel the president to modulate his tone seemed doubtful for various reasons, including the combative tone of Trump's tweet announcing the meeting.
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A former Times editor opining on social media Sunday on the chances of any reconciliation, wrote, "Don't hold your breath."
bik/aw (AP, AFP)