Martin Baron, Washington Post executive editor: 'Democracy Dies in Darkness' stays after Trump

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The Washington Post unveiled “Democracy Dies in Darkness” a month after President Trump was sworn into office, but even though Mr. Trump may be on the way out, the slogan is staying.

Martin Baron, Post executive editor, said Sunday that the much-discussed phrase would remain on the masthead, and rebutted the presumption that Mr. Trump was the impetus for the newspaper’s decision to adopt in February 2017 the first official slogan in its 140-year history.

“It was not created in response to the Trump administration, notwithstanding the accusations that people made against us, and it’s not going away again,” Mr. Baron said on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.” “It’s very much a part of who we are.”

His statement met with skepticism from Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the conservative Media Research Center.

He [Baron] said it wasn’t a Trump slogan, which was a bald-faced lie,” said Mr. Graham. “They put it up in February 2017 and said it was ‘for readers who have come to us for the first time over the last year.’ Well, what does that mean? The idea that this wasn’t caused by Trump is preposterous.”

The Washington Post said in a February 2017 article that the decision to adopt a motto was made by senior executives “nearly a year ago, long before Trump was the Republican presidential nominee.”

“We thought it would be a good, concise value statement that conveys who we are to the many millions of readers who have come to us for the first time over the last year,” Post communications Shani George told CBS News in a post dated Feb. 22, 2017.

Mr. Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015; jumped out to a lead in the Republican primary polls a month later, and became the party’s presidential nominee in July 2016.

The jury is still out on “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Shortly after its unveiling, ProPublica called it “awesome,” while New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said it “sounds like the next Batman movie.” Then there are the parodies.

“Twitter’s full of people saying that now it’s ‘democracy dies in Delaware,’” said Mr. Graham, referring to President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s home state.

“We’ve seen 700 versions of that because it’s so obnoxious,” he said. “It’s the whole notion that they keep democracy functioning with their snarky articles about Trump having a hamburger or throwing his remote or whatever, according to senior administration officials.”

Mr. Baron said that during the Trump administration, “We did our job. We did our job as defined under the First Amendment. That’s why we have a First Amendment in this country.”

“That’s what we have done over the last four years, and that’s what we’ll do in the next four years as well,” he said. “This is not unique to any particular administration, any particular party. It’s something that we intend to do, and that’s core to our mission. That’s core to who we are. It’s always been part of the Post heritage.”

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