EVANSTON, Ill. --- President Trump tweeted Sunday morning about an off-the-record meeting he had with The New York Times publisher, A.G. Sulzberger. Trump wrote that they discussed “fake news,” and he referred to the media as “enemy of the people.”

The New York Times responded by releasing a statement confirming the July 20 meeting, but the statement disagreed with Trump’s characterization of what was discussed.

Tim Franklin is senior associate dean and a professor at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. He can be reached at 847-467-1651 or timothy.franklin@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Professor Franklin

“It’s been typical throughout history for presidents of both parties to meet off the record with the leaders of major national news organizations, like The New York Times, to air concerns about coverage and discuss the major issues of the day. What’s atypical, however, is for the president to later publicly discuss that meeting and lash out at the news organization.

“I disagree with those who say that Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger shouldn’t have met with the president. I think it’s really important for the Times to listen to the president’s concerns, and for President Trump to hear Mr. Sulzberger’s warning about the effects of his anti-press rhetoric. The president clearly believes that labeling the news media ‘the enemy of the American people’ plays well politically with his core supporters. Unfortunately, however, those attacks are contributing to an alarming escalation of threats against journalists individually and press freedom generally in the U.S. and around the world. A free press is essential to any self-governing democracy. Yet, these increasingly vitriolic denunciations of the news media are emboldening leaders abroad and at home to crack down on press freedoms and limit public access to information.

“All of this is happening at the same time that the business model for local news in the U.S. has been massively disrupted by technology and new media platforms, leading to fewer and fewer journalists covering local institutions, schools, businesses and neighborhoods. All of these trends should be of concern to citizens who need access to news and information to live their lives and make good decisions.”

More about Franklin

Before joining Medill in June 2017, Franklin was president of The Poynter Institute, a leading international school for journalists and a media think tank. He has been the top editor of three metropolitan newspapers, The Indianapolis Star, Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun. His newsrooms won numerous national journalism awards, and The Sun was a Pulitzer Prize finalist during his tenure. Before joining Poynter in 2014, Franklin was a managing editor in the Washington bureau of Bloomberg News, helping oversee coverage of the White House, Congress, Supreme Court and many federal agencies.

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