NYT Publisher Defends Coverage Of Biden’s Age, Says It’s Made White House “Extremely Upset”

Authored by Bill Pan via The Epoch Times,

The New York Times’ reporting on concerns about President Joe Biden’s age has made the White House very unhappy, according to the publisher of the newspaper.

The revelation came in an interview with Oxford University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, during which NY Times publisher Arthur Greg Sulzberger was asked if journalists should take a different approach when covering an “authoritarian candidate.”

Having navigated the newspaper through the turbulent 2020 election cycle, Mr. Sulzberger noted that there is a risk in the media “leaning into becoming the opposition to these candidates and becoming emotionally invested and trying to undermine them,” rather than helping the public better understand who they are and what they can offer.

“For me, the path forward is to fully and fairly convey this and do it unapologetically and with clear language while understanding that doing so may lead some people not to find it too credible,” said Mr. Sulzberger, who succeeded his father, longtime publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. in the role at the end of 2017.

“We are going to continue to report fully and fairly, not just on Donald Trump but also on President Joe Biden,” he told the Institute.

“He is a historically unpopular incumbent and the oldest man to ever hold this office.”

“We’ve reported on both of those realities extensively, and the White House has been extremely upset about it.”

During the interview, which was published Monday, Mr. Sulzberger also acknowledged that a “disproportionate number” of conservative voters do not trust any news source that recognizes President Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election.

“We can’t try to win those folks over and hedge our language,” he said.

“We are just stating the truth fully and plainly, but we are also doing that in a way that is unemotional.”

The interview comes amid increased concerns about President Biden’s age and mental fitness. In a report on the president’s alleged inappropriate handling of classified documents, special counsel Robert Hur said one of the reasons he decided to not press charges on the 81-year-old president was that a sympathetic jury would probably view him as a “well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

The report prompted President Biden’s defenders, including Vice President Kamala Harris, to point to Mr. Hur’s history of clerking for two well-known conservative judges, accused him of being “clearly politically motivated.” However, Mr. Hur’s report also included a letter from the White House asking that the comments about the president’s memory be revised “in a manner that is within the bounds of your expertise and remit.”

In the days after the report, the NY Times ran a series of editorials and opinion pieces discussing President Biden’s potential incapacity to hold office due to his age and mental state. At least one of them suggested that he could quit the 2024 race, with columnist Ross Douthat describing the vibe the president gives off in public as “a lightbulb that still burns so long as you keep it on a dimmer.”

In another piece published on Feb. 9, titled “The Challenges of an Aging President,” the NY Times editorial board argued that President Biden, at his age, is taking Americans into “unchartered territories” with his reelection bid.

“Regardless of Mr. Hur’s motivation, the details that he presented spoke to worries voters already had,” the NY Times’ editors wrote.

“The president has to reassure and build confidence with the public by doing things that he has so far been unwilling to do convincingly.”

Those comments have drawn criticism not only from the president’s supporters, but also from members of the press. Margaret Sullivan, a former editor for the NY Times, said the newspaper’s coverage of President Biden’s age has become an “obsession,” suggesting that Mr. Sulzberger tell his editorial team to stop “going overboard with both coverage and commentary” on it and “keep this in better perspective.”

Specifically, Ms. Sullivan argued that the NY Times, as well as other media outlets, should focus on former President Donald Trump’s age—he’s currently 77—his legal problems, and how he is “poised to take down American democracy.”

Mr. Sulzberger didn’t respond to Ms. Sullivan’s criticism, but during the interview with the Institute, he addressed those who point to the civil and criminal charges cases against President Trump.

“We are not saying that this is the same as Trump’s five court cases or that they are even,” Mr. Sulzberger said. “They are different. But they are both true, and the public needs to know both those things.”

“And if you are hyping up one side or downplaying the other, no side has a reason to trust you in the long run.”

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