“This mix of entertainment and news, and news masquerading as entertainment, is kind of funny except that we now have a guy who is a product of that world nominated as Republican presidential candidate,” Baquet said in an interview with the Financial Times published on Friday.
Republican nominee Donald Trump proved to be an early ratings bonanza for TV networks that in turn helped boost his candidacy by allowing him to routinely call into news shows, failing to challenge his bogus claims, rewarding rank bigotry and airing evening rallies live without serious fact-checking of what he said on stage. The excessive airtime helped push Trump’s rivals to the margins during the Republican primary, though scrutiny of the cable networks increased ― and across the news media more broadly ― as he grew closer to winning the nomination.
The Times has had a rocky relationship with Trump, who has given the paper significant access through dozens of interviews this election cycle, while simultaneously blasting the paper at rallies and on Twitter. Trump has talked of suing the Times on several occasions, though so far these threats have fizzled out.
In the Financial Times interview, Baquet also criticized CNN’s hiring of former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who bullied the press while on the job. He also continued getting paid by the campaign once he was on CNN’s payroll, while promoting his former boss on air. Baquet called the hiring of Lewandowski “outrageous” and described the network commentator as a “political shill.”
While Baquet acknowledged Fox News employs “great” journalists like Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace, he said the network “at its heart is not a journalistic institution.”
Baquet said Fox News provides “some weird mix of a little bit of journalism, a little bit of entertainment, a little bit of pandering to a particular audience .” And disgraced former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, he said, won’t “go down as one of the great journalists of his time.”