NEW YORK — The New York Times is painting a dire picture of the Trump campaign in a story titled “Inside the Failing Mission to Save Donald Trump From Himself.”
And Trump is having none of it. The problem, he says, is … The Times.
“The failing @nytimes has become a newspaper of fiction,” he tweeted Saturday afternoon about two hours after the story went online. “Their stories about me always quote non-existent unnamed sources. Very dishonest!”
Trump has repeatedly called The Times a “failing” paper in reference to its financial challenges. He routinely calls the media “dishonest.”
At a rally in Fairfield, Connecticut on Saturday night, he said “the newspaper is going to hell.”
“Maybe we’ll start thinking about taking away their press credentials,” he said. “When they write dishonest stories we should be a little bit tough.” Trump’s crowd cheered.
Trump first floated the idea of potentially banning The Times on August 1. His campaign has been denying press credentials to The Washington Post since June. Several other prominent news outlets have also been affected by the so-called “blacklist.”
Trump has been running an anti-media campaign ever since he entered the presidential race in June 2015. It proved highly persuasive during the primaries, but political analysts have doubts that it will be as effective during the general election.
The Times story noted Trump’s “souring relationship with the news media” but focused on the campaign’s struggles.
The article, which will appear in Sunday’s print edition, said some of Trump’s advisors “now increasingly concede that Mr. Trump may be beyond coaching.”
It also said that “in private, Mr. Trump’s mood is often sullen and erratic, his associates say. He veers from barking at members of his staff to grumbling about how he was better off following his own instincts during the primaries and suggesting he should not have heeded their calls for change.”
Trump seemed to object to the suggestion that he’s not having fun.
“I am truly enjoying myself while running for president,” he tweeted right after slamming The Times. “The people of our country are amazing – great numbers on November 8th!”
Jason Miller, the campaign’s senior communications adviser, said he issued the following statement to The Times. The paper chose to print only a part of it.
“This is why the American public feels that there is such strong media bias against Mr. Trump’s campaign. Whiny, off-the-record naysayers don’t count as legitimate observers,” Miller said in the statement.
“The reality is, Mr. Trump is effectively delivering messages of economic growth and defeating radical Islamic terrorism in front of enthusiastic, overflow capacity crowds, while Hillary Clinton takes in-campaign vacations. That’s a big contrast,” he said. “Our campaign will continue to use focused, policy-driven events in combination with massive rallies that all feature our greatest asset: Mr. Trump and his message of breaking up the rigged system in Washington.”
Miller’s reference to “policy-driven events” may have been spurred by The Times’ reporting that on matters of policy, “Mr. Trump has engaged only fleetingly, and idiosyncratically.”
The Times story, by Maggie Haberman and Alex Burns, cited “interviews with more than 20 Republicans who are close to Mr. Trump or in communication with his campaign, many of whom insisted on anonymity to avoid clashing with him.”
Haberman and Burns said the sources “described their nominee as exhausted, frustrated and still bewildered by fine points of the political process and why his incendiary approach seems to be sputtering.”
Trump’s tweet asserted that the anonymous sources were “non-existent.”
Full disclosure: This reporter formerly worked for The Times. The newspaper’s standards require reporters who use anonymous sources to share the names of the sources with top editors before publication.
The Times published a second noteworthy story on Saturday afternoon: All about Trump’s anti-media campaign.
It noted that Trump told an approving crowd on Friday that journalists “are the lowest form of life.”