Last weekend, Trump stepped up his attacks on the Times — which he’d previously called “fake news” and the “enemy of the people” — by blasting its reporting on U.S. cyberattacks on Russia’s power grid. He also accused the newspaper of conducting “a virtual act of Treason”:
In an op-ed that the Rupert Murdoch-owned and often Trump-positive Journal published online Wednesday, Sulzberger wrote that “this new attack crosses a dangerous line in the president’s campaign against a free and independent press.”
“There is no more serious charge a commander in chief can make against an independent news organization,” Sulzberger wrote. “Which presents a troubling question: What would it look like for Mr. Trump to escalate his attacks on the press further? Having already reached for the most incendiary language available, what is left but putting his threats into action?”
Sulzberger also defended the Times’ reporting and noted how its reporter had “contacted officials at the White House National Security Council, the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command and gave them the opportunity to raise any national-security concerns about the story. They told us they did not have any. Shortly after publication, the president accused the Times of treason.”
Sulzberger’s comments echoed a tweet published by the newspaper in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s accusation:
Sulzberger met with Trump last year and “implored him to reconsider his broader attacks on journalism, which I believe are dangerous and harmful to our country.” His op-ed concluded:
Over 167 years, through 33 presidential administrations, the Times has sought to serve America and its citizens by seeking the truth and helping people understand the world. There is nothing we take more seriously than doing this work fairly and accurately, even when we are under attack. Mr. Trump’s campaign against journalists should concern every patriotic American. A free, fair and independent press is essential to our country’s strength and vitality and to every freedom that makes it great.