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New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet spoke candidly last weekend about how the media "did not quite understand the Trump phenomenon" during the 2016 election.
In an interview conducted by the International News Media Association, Baquet was asked about a letter to readers that he and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. wrote days after the historic election of Donald Trump.
"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?" Baquet and Sulzberger wrote. "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."
Baquet insisted his letter wasn't an "apology," but rather an "acknowledgment of something important."
“It was an acknowledgment that the American press … did not quite understand the Trump phenomenon," Baquet said. "Nobody in my newsroom — nobody in front of me — said that they thought Donald Trump could win."
Baquet said the staff underestimated the impact the economy had on voters and "how much anger there was" in the U.S.
"My goal now is to understand that," he said. "And I already think we’ve done a better job. I think we’ve come a long way.”
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