President-elect Donald Trump, after telling “60 Minutes” he’d lay off Twitter as president, Sunday unleashed his wrath on the microblogging site against the New York Times, denying he ever said more countries should have nuclear weapons and chortling over the newspaper fear of a backlash as a result of its coverage of the campaign.
In an interview to be broadcast Sunday evening, Trump told CBS’s “60 Minutes” social media played a key role in his campaign and gave him a way to fight back against negative publicity.
“[But] I’m going to be very restrained, if I use it at all, I’m going to be very restrained,” Trump said.
By Sunday morning, however, the gloves came off again.
The New York Times, in trying to parse Trump’s foreign policy positions, highlighted comments Trump made during the campaign saying more countries should have nuclear weapons so they wouldn’t have to depend on the United States for protection. The issue came up after North Korea flexed its nuclear muscles, and Trump suggested South Korea and Japan should have their own arsenals.
Trump denied ever saying that, calling the Times coverage dishonest and inaccurate.
Like all print media, the New York Times is struggling. To head off a backlash from Trump supporters, publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger and editor Dean Baquet emailed subscribers, asking whether they had “underestimated” Trump’s support. Deadline.com said some subscribers read the note not as a plea for forgiveness, but rather as making excuses.
“We cannot deliver the independent, original journalism for which we are known without the loyalty of our subscribers,” the email said. The letter called the campaign “erratic and unpredictable.”
“We believe we reported on both candidates fairly during the presidential campaign,” the email said, adding, readers can rely on the Times “to bring the same fairness, the same level of scrutiny, the same independence to our coverage of the new president and his team.”
Trump said during the campaign he would like to loosen libel laws to make it easier for public figures to win damages from new organizations.
Earlier this month, the Times reported an overall drop in advertising revenue of 8 percent in the third quarter, including a 19 percent drop in print advertising revenue while digital advertising revenue grew 36 percent. The newspaper has 625,000 daily print subscribers and about 1 million digital subscribers, the Nieman Lab reported.
Trump also thanked Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former primary rival Jeb Bush, former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for calling to congratulate him on his win. None of them supported Trump during the campaign, with Romney calling him "a phony [and] a fraud" in a March 3 speech.