Top NYT Editor Suggests White House Wants Paper To Act Like Communist Propaganda Arm For President

Wikimedia Commons/Public/Haxorjoe, CC BY 3.0

Reagan Reese White House Correspondent
Font Size:

A top editor at the New York Times suggested to Semafor that the White House wants the outlet to act like a communist propaganda arm for President Joe Biden ahead of the 2024 election.

Those close to President Joe Biden have previously thought that the NYT has been “failing” in its coverage by not being more favorable to the White House, according to Politico. New York Times Executive Editor Joe Kahn responded in an interview with Semafor to complaints from Biden allies that the outlet does not see its role in the media “as saving democracy or stopping an authoritarian from taking power.”

“It’s our job to cover the full range of issues that people have. At the moment, democracy is one of them. But it’s not the top one — immigration happens to be the top [of polls], and the economy and inflation is the second. Should we stop covering those things because they’re favorable to Trump and minimize them? I don’t even know how it’s supposed to work in the view of Dan Pfeiffer or the White House,” Khan said.

“We become an instrument of the Biden campaign? We turn ourselves into Xinhua News Agency or Pravda and put out a stream of stuff that’s very, very favorable to them and only write negative stories about the other side? And that would accomplish — what?” he continued.

Pravda is a Russian newspaper that served for nearly a century as a propaganda apparatus for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Xinhua is one of the preeminent state-owned media outlets now serving the Chinese Communist Party.

Politico’s report previously detailed a feud developing between the NYT and the White House over the outlet’s coverage of Biden and his administration. Some aides close to the president reportedly see the upcoming presidential election as  “an existential choice for the country” and such a viewpoint has encouraged officials to criticize the NYT’s coverage, Politico reported.

As a result of the tension, some NYT reporters told Politico that they had been cut off from their sources because of a story they had written.

“To say that the threats of democracy are so great that the media is going to abandon its central role as a source of impartial information to help people vote — that’s essentially saying that the news media should become a propaganda arm for a single candidate because we prefer that candidate’s agenda. It is true that Biden’s agenda is more in sync with traditional establishment parties and candidates. And we’re reporting on that and making it very clear,” Khan said during the Semafor interview.

In August 2016 and just a few months out from Trump being elected president, the NYT featured an article on its front page that encouraged journalists to “throw out the textbook American journalism” if they believed that the former president was “a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies.” The New York Times Editorial Board ran a piece in October 2020, a month before the Trump-Biden matchup, titled “End Our National Crisis: The Case Against Donald Trump.”

“If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?” Jim Rutenberg wrote.

“Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career,” he continued.

But now Biden allies are upset with the NYT’s coverage of the president, despite their criticism of the former president.

“Democrats believe in the importance of a free press in upholding our democracy, and the NYT was for generations an important standard bearer for the fourth estate,” Kate Berner, former staffer on Biden’s 2020 campaign and former deputy White House communications director, told Politico. “The frustration with the Times is sometimes so intense because the Times is failing at its important responsibility.”