NYT’s Petulant Take on SOTU: Trump ‘Rarely Lets Details Get in the Way of a Good Story’

January 31st, 2018 1:25 PM

Reporter Peter Baker’s front-page “news analysis” in Wednesday’s New York Times, written before President Trump’s first State of the Union speech, tried to frame the President as an unpopular, divisive, uncompassionate exaggerator: “The Salesman Most Still Aren’t Sold On.” And Helene Cooper’s live coverage provided this snarky bit: “All of the invited guests were used to show how foreigners are bad”:

When he took office, President Trump painted a bleak picture of a country ravaged by economic turmoil, a landscape of “American carnage,” as he so memorably put it. A year later, he presented the nation on Tuesday night with a different narrative, one of a booming economy and a “new American moment.”


Never mind that in some fundamental ways the economy is growing no faster than it did at points during President Barack Obama’s second term. Mr. Trump is at heart a salesman, and he rarely lets details get in the way of a good story. And by some measures, he has managed to convince many Americans, especially corporate leaders, that the economy really is surging in a way it has not for years.


“In doing what I’m doing now,” [Trump] added, “a lot of it is heart, a lot of it is compassion, a lot of it is far beyond money, such as immigration, such as the things we’re talking about.”

Compassion is not the word his critics or even many of his admirers would use to characterize Mr. Trump’s tenure so far, at least when it comes to immigrants from Muslim countries or Africa, racial minorities protesting white supremacists, women subjected to sexual harassment or working families dependent on government health care programs. Just 33 percent of Americans said they thought of him as compassionate in a new Politico/Morning Consult poll.

Right on cue, the paper’s online fact-checks of Trump's speech were no less unforgiving:

“Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone.” The math is correct, but context matters....“African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded.” True, but needs context.

Buckle up, folks, because this was just petulant:

Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan. Sort of.

The reporters monitoring the speech live at nytimes.com were steamed at Trump for using the perfectly respectable phrase “chain migration” to describe legal immigrants sponsoring members of their extended family to become citizens as well.

White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman wrote at 10:06 p.m. Eastern:

Now a smattering of boos. As he starts talking about what he calls “chain migration.”

At the exact same time, Congressional Correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg stated:

Wow, the first boos, as the president calls for limits on what Republicans have called chain migration, in which immigrants can sponsor their family members.

Everyone used to call it “chain migration,” until the Democrats decided the phrase was cutting against them.

Later, Pentagon Correspondent Helene Cooper edged toward mockery of a child in her crack at 10:36 p.m. Eastern:

All of the invited guests were used to show how foreigners are bad. Except for the kid who put the flags all over the place.

Cooper is talking about 12-year-old Preston Sharp, who puts flags on veterans' graves in California.