A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times (NYT), says President Donald Trump has undermined “his own citizens’ faith in the news organizations attempting to hold him accountable” and has “effectively given foreign leaders permission to do the same with their countries’ journalists,” CNN informs.
And “they’ve eagerly embraced the approach,” he remarked while delivering a lecture at his alma mater, Brown University. Sulzberger’s speech was newsworthy because he shared some new examples of threats to journalism in the age of Trump.
He said the Trump administration “has retreated from our country’s historical role as a defender of the free press,” and he described disturbing consequences both at home and abroad, according to a transcript of his speech, which was published on The Times website.
“Two years ago, we got a call from a United States government official warning us of the imminent arrest of a New York Times reporter based in Egypt named Declan Walsh,” Sulzberger said.
While these heads-ups are “actually fairly standard,” this particular call “took a surprising and distressing turn,” Sulzberger said. “We learned the official was passing along this warning without the knowledge or permission of the Trump administration. Rather than trying to stop the Egyptian government or assist the reporter, the official believed, the Trump administration intended to sit on the information and let the arrest be carried out. The official feared being punished for even alerting us to the danger.”
So the Times reached out to diplomats in Walsh’s native country, Ireland, and they took action: “Within an hour, Irish diplomats traveled to his house and safely escorted him to the airport before Egyptian forces could detain him.”
Sulzberger added, “We hate to imagine what would have happened had that brave official not risked their career to alert us to the threat.”
Then he shared another example, from earlier this year, when Times reporter David Kirkpatrick arrived in Egypt and was detained and deported “in apparent retaliation for exposing information that was embarrassing to the Egyptian government.”
Kirkpatrick’s detention was reported at the time, but this detail was not: “When we protested the move,” Sulzberger said Monday, “a senior official at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo openly voiced the cynical worldview behind the Trump administration’s tolerance for such crackdowns. ‘What did you expect would happen to him?’ he said. ‘His reporting made the government look bad’.”