On Monday, The New York Times issued a mea culpa for the nature of their coverage of the allegation by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll that President Donald Trump raped her in a department store in the 1990s.
“After an article last week reported the advice columnist E. Jean Carroll’s rape allegations against President Trump, some readers accused The Times of downplaying the story,” wrote staff editor Lara Takenaga. “Many have written to ask us why we didn’t give the allegations more attention on our website and in print … Some questioned whether the lack of prominence showed too much deference to the president’s denials, or whether it even suggested misogyny or an unwillingness to believe a victim’s account.”
Executive editor Dean Baquet reportedly agreed that the coverage was inadequate, but denied that the paper was in any way deferential to the president.
“In The Times‘s reporting on the Weinstein and O’Reilly cases, editors developed an informal set of guidelines for when The Times would publish such allegations. Those guidelines include locating sources outside those mentioned by the accusers who not only corroborate the allegations but also are willing to go on the record,” stated the analysis. “But the Carroll story, Mr. Baquet said, was different because the allegations were already receiving broad attention, with New York Magazine publishing an excerpt from Ms. Carroll’s book detailing the incident.”
Ultimately, the Times concluded that the different circumstances of this case meant that it should have been covered more aggressively than it otherwise would have been.
“In retrospect, Mr. Baquet said, a key consideration was that this was not a case where we were surfacing our own investigation — the allegations were already being discussed by the public,” said the analysis. “The fact that a well-known person was making a very public allegation against a sitting president ‘should’ve compelled us to play it bigger.'”