The executive editor of the New York Times defended Maggie Haberman as “one of the finest journalists of her generation” on Monday, after the reporter came under fire from Fox News.
Dean Baquet’s statement was included in a piece on the Fox News website which accused Haberman of being fixated on Donald Trump and failing to properly cover Joe Biden.
On Monday evening, primetime host Sean Hannity – who Fox News has reprimanded for campaigning with Trump and who denies a report he wrote a campaign ad for the then president – called Haberman a Trump “stalker”.
Hannity also said Haberman and colleagues who won a Pulitzer prize in 2018 for reporting on Russian election interference and links between Trump and Moscow should “correct the record, return your fake Pulitzer and admit who you are”.
Appropriately for such a storm in a Beltway goldfish bowl, it all began on Twitter.
Responding to coverage of an accident at a Pride parade in Florida on Sunday, Haberman linked to an article and wrote: “This website publishes such garbage [especially] when it comes to media. Politicians say something, reporters cover it. ‘OUTRAGEOUS,’ scream Fox dot com media reporters.”
Haberman deleted the messages, saying they were “overbroad” and that she “should be more specific – some Fox shows aired comments I made for several days out of context, and some reporters used them in media stories on the website out of context. A tweet also got mischaracterised today.”
On Monday, Fox News published a piece headlined “New York Times scribe Maggie Haberman can’t quit Trump, largely ignores Biden”.
The piece quoted sources including Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center, a conservative thinktank; William A Jacobson, a Cornell law professor and conservative “media critic” also the founder of legalinsurrection.com; and Chris Barron, a “conservative strategist” who once wrote a piece for the Guardian entitled “I helped create Donald Trump the politician. Now I bitterly regret it”.
Barron said Haberman, also an analyst for CNN, “traded what credibility she had during the Trump administration for 15 minutes of cable news fame. With Trump out of office she’s lost.
“Like a heroin junky who has hocked everything she owned, she’s left with nothing but the desire to hopelessly chase that elusive high. She should consider a new line of work, one that allows her to break her unhealthy addiction.”
The Fox News article, however, outlined how busy Trump and the party he controls have kept Haberman and other reporters.
Of more than 100 stories to which Haberman has contributed in that time, Fox News said, “at least 70” were about Trump or figures in his orbit and “dozens … concerned Trump’s second impeachment trial shortly after he left office”.
Trump is the only president to be impeached twice, making his second trial, on a charge of inciting the deadly Capitol attack of 6 January, a truly historic event.
Trump was acquitted when only a handful of Republican senators voted for his guilt. Republicans have since blocked a commission to investigate the attack.
Haberman has also signed a deal for a book on Trump. Announcing it, Penguin vice-president and publisher Scott Moyers predicted an “instant classic, a definitive and fascinating account of Donald Trump, his life and his presidency”.
Plenty of journalists have been using Trump as a source: according to Axios, Trump has given at least 22 interviews for 17 books since leaving the White House.
Baquet said Haberman would “continue to be one of our lead reporters on major political news in the coming years.
“We’re proud that she works for the New York Times.”
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