The paper, which endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, sent a letter to readers November 11 in which it promised to "rededicate" itself to its journalistic mission and asked subscribers to remain loyal.
Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and editor Dean Baquet certainly seemed to be sounding a reflective note in the letter, admitting, “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?”
One might wonder whether that last question should have been asked during the campaign, not after.
They continued: "As we reflect on this week's momentous result … 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 …"
Not that the paper would admit that it hadn’t been doing that, of course. "We believe we reported on both candidates fairly during the presidential campaign," Sulzberger and Baquet said. "You can rely on The New York Times to bring the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team."
— Sydney Ember (@melbournecoal) November 11, 2016
If New York Post columnist and former New York Times reporter Michael Goodwin is to be believed, that level of fairness and independence ain’t much.
"Had the paper actually been fair to both candidates, it wouldn't need to rededicate itself to honest reporting," he wrote Friday. "And it wouldn't have been totally blindsided by Trump's victory. Instead, because it demonized Trump from start to finish, it failed to realize he was onto something. And because the paper decided that Trump’s supporters were a rabble of racist rednecks and homophobes, it didn’t have a clue about what was happening in the lives of the Americans who elected the new president."
The Times also sent a note to its staff the same day, asking employees to reflect on the paper’s vision “to cover the news without fear or favor” and insisting that journalists approach the new Trump administration without bias.
"We will cover his policies and his agenda fairly. We will bring expert analysis and thoughtful commentary to the changes we see in government, and to their ramifications on the ground. We will look within and beyond Washington to explore the roots of the anger that has roiled red and blue America. If many Americans no longer seem to understand each other, let’s make it our job to interpret and explain," Sulzberger exhorted staff.
Such efforts might have been very useful during the campaign.
In its endorsement of Clinton, the Times wrote "In any normal election year, we’d compare the two presidential candidates side by side on the issues. But this is not a normal election year. A comparison like that would be an empty exercise in a race where one candidate – our choice, Hillary Clinton – has a record of service and a raft of pragmatic ideas, and the other, Donald Trump, discloses nothing concrete about himself or his plans while promising the moon and offering the stars on layaway."