2020年1月31日 星期五

The Daily: Interviewing Our Boss About 2016

What could possibly go wrong?
Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, in Studio B.Michael Barbaro/The New York Times

On Friday’s show, we did something we’ve never done before and something we’ve long resisted: We interviewed our boss.

Why resist, you ask? Because there are so many big and urgent stories to tell around the world, and we never wanted “The Daily” to turn into a show about The New York Times.

When we talk to Times journalists and editors, it’s about the news, not about our employer.

But a few weeks ago, Theo Balcomb, our executive producer, and Lisa Tobin, the head of the audio team, recognized that the moment we’re in not only justified some institutional reflection, but called for it.

They met with The Times’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, and asked if he’d be willing to participate in a candid conversation about what we learned from the 2016 presidential election as we head deeper into coverage of the 2020 election.

It dawned on us that this would be a tricky interview. If we pulled any punches, you would wonder if we were being too gentle on the man who runs the newsroom, or if we were protecting The Times (and ourselves) from real scrutiny. We needed to treat Dean like anyone else we interview on the show.

And we needed to prepare. A team of editors and producers, including Paige Cowett and Rachel Quester, began brainstorming on our approach. As we talked, we kept returning to the three ultimately flawed assumptions that seemed to guide coverage of the 2016 campaign across much of the news media: One, that Hillary Clinton would win the Democratic nomination. Two, that Donald Trump would lose the Republican nomination. And three, that when both became their party’s nominees, she would defeat him.

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Had The Times made those assumptions? If so, why? That, in the end, became the framework for our interview.

To ground the interview in Times coverage, we scoured the archives, rereading stories from 2016 about all the major candidates so we’d have specific examples to bring to Dean.

We scheduled 90 minutes for the interview on Wednesday morning. It ran long — closer to two hours. Dean was candid, reflective and disarmingly undefensive. He was ready to meaningfully grapple with the 2016 coverage, critique it, praise it, explain it and talk about how it would change for 2020. His “biggest self-criticism”? That “we didn’t quite have a finger on the country.”

We ended the episode by telling Dean about a new show we’re making, called “The Field,” that is itself a way of rethinking Times campaign coverage, by heading out across the U.S. and deeply engaging with voters. We will launch it from Iowa — where I’m currently writing this — just as voting begins there on Monday.

Stay tuned.

P.S. In the interview, Dean mentioned a 1964 story about a town called Philadelphia, Miss., that he said still guides the way he thinks about reporting on racism. A few of you asked for a link to it. Here’s the story.

Talk to Michael on Twitter: @mikiebarb.

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Impeachment, with a side of pizza

A few gems hit the cutting room floor from our interview with Senator Chuck Schumer, two of them related to the culinary side of impeachment.

In one, Schumer revealed his snack of choice during the Senate trial: Luden’s cherry cough drops, a tasty, low-calorie treat. He buys them by the bag and sneaks them throughout the proceedings.

Then there’s the matter of dinner. The Democrats eat together every night, with senators taking turns ordering for dozens of their colleagues. In this clip, Schumer recalled a week’s worth of entrees — some more popular than others.

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Get to know four of the candidates

With the Iowa caucuses kicking off 2020 election contests across the country, all eyes are on who will emerge as the Democratic front-runner. To better understand who’s on the ballot and what they represent, the team behind “The Daily” created a series called “The Candidates” that explores formative moments in the lives of the top four Democratic hopefuls.

Pete Buttigieg opens up about being the first major openly gay presidential candidate. Elizabeth Warren walks us through the moment she switched from being a Republican to a Democrat. Bernie Sanders takes us through the first time his grass-roots approach to politics won him an election — by just 10 votes. And while Joe Biden declined to sit down with us, we explored the origins of his deep belief in bipartisanship.

We’ll see you in Iowa on Monday. In the meantime, take a listen by searching “The Candidates” wherever you get your podcasts.

On ‘The Daily’ this week

Monday: A battle over football is playing out in Marshall, Texas. For some, it’s “a way to get their kid to college,” Ken Belson tells us. For others, the health risks are no longer worth it.

Tuesday: Maggie Haberman and Mike Schmidt on John Bolton’s motives for drafting a book that directly links President Trump to a quid pro quo with Ukraine.

Wednesday: History is upon them, and they’ll be remembered for this vote long after they’ve left the Senate.” Senator Chuck Schumer makes a moral case for Republicans to vote on new witnesses.

Thursday: China’s authoritarian culture, in many ways, set the stage for this crisis.” Our correspondent, Javier Hernández, travels to Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

Friday:Something surprising and shocking happened with the election of Donald Trump.” Dean Baquet on the lessons of the last presidential election.

That’s it for The Daily newsletter. See you next week.

Have thoughts about the show? Tell us what you think at thedaily@nytimes.com.

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