Dean Baquet: ‘Trump Is the Best Thing to Happen to the Times’ Subscription Strategy’

The Times executive editor is making lemonade out of Trump's anti-Times tweets

When AdFreak described earlier today President Trump’s reaction–in tweet form, naturally–to the New York Times ad spot that will air at the Oscar’s tonight, the Times had yet to respond.

Fortunately, Times executive editor Dean Baquet had already been scheduled to appear on CNN’s Reliable Sources, and host Brian Stelter had a chance to ask him about Trump’s latest “failing New York Times” tweet, a phrase Trump has tweeted out more than 50 times, as Stelter pointed out.

It is a phrase that is undercut more and more every time Trump tweets it out, according to Baquet. “Trump is the best thing to happen to The Times’ subscription strategy,” Baquet told Stelter. “Every time he tweets, it drives subscriptions wildly.”

But for Baquet, the counterintuitive benefits extend not only to circulation numbers, but to a renewed sense of purpose, for the Times and other publications. “I think that there was a long time when the press wondered about its place in the society,” said Baquet. “The last several years as newspaper subscriptions sort of dwindled, as newspapers, particularly local newspapers worried about their future, I think what’s happened in the last couple of months, I have to say, has been tremendous for news organizations.”

“Our mission is clearer than it’s ever been,” he added. “We’re covering a dramatic revolution in government and how the country is governed. And it feels like all of the things that sort of bothered us and made us lose confidence in last few months have sort of gone away.”

Those unintended benefits go up against the intended collective purpose of Trump’s twitter campaign against the Times, what Baquet characterized as an effort to “minimize the press.”