The New York Times ‘apology’
I mentioned last Friday about US President-elect Donald Trump’s claim about the New York Times apologizing to him through “A Letter to the Readers” that the publication issued last Nov. 13.
After reading about it on a blog from a former media colleague in Cagayan de Oro City who’s now based in the US, I decided to share this with you after seeing some similarities between what happened there and here, when then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte managed to overcome political machinery and four other candidates to win the country’s presidency.
Here is, word for word, that New York Times apology as claimed by Trump:
To Our Readers, From the Publisher and Executive Editor
Nov. 13, 2016
When the biggest political story of the year reached a dramatic and unexpected climax late Tuesday night, our newsroom turned on a dime and did what it has done for nearly two years — cover the 2016 election with agility and creativity.
After such an erratic and unpredictable election there are inevitable questions: Did Donald Trump’s sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters? What forces and strains in America drove this divisive election and outcome? Most important, how will a president who remains a largely enigmatic figure actually govern when he takes office?
As we reflect on the momentous result, and the months of reporting and polling that preceded it, we aim to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you.
It is also to hold power to account, impartially and unflinchingly. You can rely on The New York Times to bring the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team.
We cannot deliver the independent, original journalism for which we are known without the loyalty of our readers. We want to take this opportunity, on behalf of all Times journalists, to thank you for that loyalty.
Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher
Dean Baquet, executive editor
Based on what was said, the NYT questioned itself and other media outlets on whether they underestimated Trump’s support from the American voters and did not actually apologize to the incoming president, who tweeted that the New York Times “apologized for their BAD coverage of me.”
Trump also claimed that the New York Times will lose subscribers because of their “bad coverage” of him, a claim that may have been bolstered by comments to the NYT’s Facebook page post which offered a 50 percent discount for subscribers.
Some of the really nasty comments came from those who thought the paper was a liberal leftist Clinton propaganda machine and that even if the NYT offered itself for free, they won’t even buy it for fear of being contaminated by their false, biased news — as if fake news websites aren’t sprouting everywhere on Facebook.
While Duterte isn’t reviled as Trump based on the surveys which showed the President continuing to enjoy popular support, criticism on his administration had invited such vitriol and venom from fanatical supporters who threaten anyone who dares question his policies and programs either online or any platform or venue.
Contrary to Trump’s claims, the New York Times reported an increase in subscribers due perhaps to their 50 percent discount on both online content and print publications.
But the paper’s plight showed the very real and daunting challenges faced not only by print media but every media outlet that strives to cover not just the elections but the elected government leaders of the countries they are based in.
It was in 1999 when the Philippine Daily Inquirer sustained an ad boycott after then president Joseph Estrada took offense to articles it published that was critical of his administration.
With the advent of social media, the mainstream media had taken quite the beating from Duterte’s fanatical supporters who have taken to Facebook and Twitter to lash out at those who dare question their “Tatay (Father) Digong (Duterte’s nickname).”
Despite these challenges, Philippine media can only respond to them with the same fervor, courage, discipline and commitment to balanced news coverage and views that had been their mantra for so many years.
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