A New York Times senior staff editor called President Trump an “oblivious idiot” and Vice President Mike Pence “horrible” and “worse than Trump” in an undercover video released Tuesday by the watchdog group Project Veritas.
The video, part of an investigation into liberal media bias, shows London-based home page editor Desiree Shoe blasting the president and vice president while acknowledging that “our main stories are supposed to be objective.”
“I feel like Trump is a just a sort of an idiot in a lot of ways, just an oblivious idiot,” she told the Project Veritas investigators in the hidden-camera footage apparently taken at a bar.
“If you impeach him, then Pence becomes president, Mike Pence, who’s f——— horrible, I think maybe worse than Trump. I’m speaking off the record,” Ms. Shoe said. “He’s extremely religious, extremely religious. He at one point backed a bill that hinted at conversion therapy for gay people, which is like electrocution.”
That The New York Times employs staffers with left-of-center views may not come as a surprise to most readers, given the newspaper’s ongoing battle with Mr. Trump, who routinely refers to the outlet in tweets as the “failing New York Times.”
Ms. Shoe, who has worked for the Times since 2009, made it clear in the video that she is not the final decision-maker, saying there are “three layers [of people] above me.”
“I monitor breaking news, write alerts. … Essentially my job right now is to curate the front pages,” she said.
Why was there so much Trump coverage during the election? “Part of it was because it was sensational,” she said.
“But also, I think one of the things that maybe journalists were thinking about is like, ‘Oh, if we write about him, about how insanely crazy he is and how ludicrous his policies are,’ then maybe people will read it and be like, ‘Oh, wow, maybe we shouldn’t vote for him,’” said Ms. Shoe.
It’s tough for reporters to remain neutral with Mr. Trump in the White House, she said.
“Our main stories are supposed to be objective. It’s very difficult in this day and age to do that,” Ms. Shoe said. “When you have something like the Charlottesville story, it’s hard to portray, for instance, the president in an unbiased light when the words that are coming out of his mouth are apologetic toward white supremacists, which is what they were.”
The latest video comes with Project Veritas already skirmishing with The New York Times over the release of footage last week featuring a junior editor who admitted to political bias.
In a talk last week on YouTube about that incident, Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet called Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe “despicable” while acknowledging that the staffer, who had been on the job for six months, “said things he shouldn’t have said, and he said things that were damaging, and I will deal with that.”
At the same time, “his sin was a sin of foolishness, and it violated our policies. Their sin was greater. Their sin was a sin of lying, of subterfuge. They’re just awful,” said Mr. Baquet.
On Friday, Mr. Baquet issued an updated social media policy that said journalists “must not express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates, make offensive comments or do anything else that undercuts the Times’s journalistic reputation.”
The latest video also sheds light on the pressures facing even venerable legacy newspapers in the rapidly changing digital age.
Mr. Trump sells papers: The New York Times’ second-quarter earnings increased by 9.2 percent this year from the previous year, while its digital subscriptions jumped by 63.4 percent, according to Project Veritas.
There’s even a phrase for it: the “Trump bump.”
“The main objective is to grab subscribers. You do that any way you can,” Ms. Shoe said.
She acknowledged that the Times is “widely, widely understood to be left-leaning,” but that there’s more to it than just telling liberal readers what they want to hear.
“It’s not so much that you have to give the readers what they want; you have to be respectful of readers’ desires, what interests readers,” Ms. Shoe said. “It’s not so much that you’re tailoring your content toward them, but one of the things we’re doing at the Times now is making sure we’re aware of our audience.”
Mr. O’Keefe has been accused by his critics in the past of selectively editing videos, which he has denied.
The series, part of the group’s “American Pravda” probe, follows footage posted in June showing a CNN associate producer calling Mr. Trump “crazy” and voters “stupid,” while another producer called the network’s focus on Russian election collusion “mostly bullsh—.”