Ted Koppel says 'the Establishment press is out to get' Trump

President Trump has been aiming his online invective at a whole lot of targets, including the husband of his White House counselor.

And it's easy to get distracted when the president of the United States is using phrases like "total loser" and "husband from hell" to describe Washington lawyer George Conway, who constantly torches Kellyanne's boss on Twitter.

But whether Trump is slamming social media bias, "SNL" reruns or "fake news" (applauding the Brazilian president for using that phrase), he is building the case that those who control the flow of information are consistently unfair to him.

Now comes a widely respected veteran journalist to say the president has a point.

Ted Koppel was a globe-trotting ABC News correspondent for decades and a master interviewer as the anchor of "Nightline." I appeared on that program numerous times and know Koppel well.

Koppel, now a senior contributor to CBS's "Sunday Morning," has left the impression from previous comments that he's not a Trump fan. And yet he felt compelled to declare that the president is right that "the establishment press is out to get him."


What's more, Koppel called out two of the country's most influential papers for their coverage of the president, which has left him "terribly concerned."

At a Carnegie Endowment forum this month, Koppel unloaded on The New York Times and Washington Post, saying the papers are not what they were 50 years ago.

"We're talking about organizations that I believe have, in fact, decided as organizations that Donald J. Trump is bad for the United States," he said. "'We have things appearing on the front page of The New York Times right now that never would have appeared 50 years ago."

Koppel argued that analysis and commentary didn't creep onto the front pages the way they do in the Trump era.

"I remember sitting at the breakfast table with my wife during the campaign after the Access Hollywood tape came out and The New York Times, and I will not offend any of you here by using the language but you know exactly what words were used, and they were spelled out on the front page of The New York Times. I turned to my wife and I said, 'The Times is absolutely committed to making sure that this guy does not get elected.'"

Wait, he's not done.

The president is "not mistaken when so many of the liberal media, for example, described themselves as belonging to the Resistance. What does that mean? That’s not said by people who consider themselves reporters, objective reporters of facts. That's the kind of language that's used by people who genuinely believe, and I rather suspect with some justification, that Donald Trump is bad for the United States."


That is a searing indictment from a man who has long been a member in good standing of the media establishment.

And it matches the comments of Jill Abramson, the former Times executive editor, who says in her new book that the news pages of her former paper have become "unmistakably anti-Trump."

Now the big papers and other major outlets would undoubtedly say they cover Trump differently because he's unlike any other president — in terms of shattering norms, divisive rhetoric, blasting the press, criticizing aides and being caught up in the Russia investigation.

The Times and Post have broken plenty of important stories about the administration, not just connected to the special counsel's probe, and both papers have some reporters and analysts who try to be fair.

But the sheer tonnage of anti-Trump stories, the negative tone, and the loaded phrases that creep into news pieces, especially at the Times, too often give the impression of opposition. The same goes for what some of the journalists say on Twitter.

I know there is concern about the tone among some in these newsrooms.

And that's without even getting into the largely one-sided opinion pages.

In January, Koppel made some other observations about the president and the press: "Let the record show that Trump has launched the careers of numerous media stars and that expressions of indignant outrage on the left and breathless admiration on the right have resulted in large, entirely nonpartisan profits for the industry of journalism ...


"Trump's detractors are outraged by him. His supporters are outraged with him. He is a national Rorschach test. Love him or hate him, you can't ignore him."

That much is undoubtedly true.

What Koppel is saying is that Trump-bashing has become a business model for left-leaning outfits and Trump-cheerleading has become a business model for right-leaning outfits. Abramson said attacking Trump had become a business model for the Times. And that ought to spark a serious debate for organizations that cast themselves as dedicated to news values over financial motives.