Trump and the New York Times

In one of a series of Letters to the Editor in Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, one letter writer decried both President Donald Trump’s and the NYT‘s words.  It’s a false comparison, though.  The letter writer wrote in the Trump part of his comparison

President Trump’s use of the word “treason” to characterize the Times, and his attempts to misuse government authority to retaliate against journalists must end, full stop.

This is a cynically misleading claim. Trump did not use the word “treason” to characterize the NYT; he used the phrase “virtual treason” to characterize the NYT‘s behavior.

Trump is well-known for disdaining euphemisms, for preferring plain, blunt speech.  If he had meant to say the NYT was a treasonous institution, he would have said so.  Beyond that, “virtual” treason is not treason; it describes behavior that might look like treason in a purely metaphorical way.  Full stop.

Regarding retaliation, Trump has never had his surveillance apparatus spy on journalists’ emails, nor has he ever thrown a journalist in jail or harassed a journalist’s mother. Again, full stop.

Nor has Trump ever tried to bar an entire news organization from its news collection duties at the White House. A third time, full stop.

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