On Saturday, columnist Gail Collins, one of the attendees at the meeting (which also included editor-in-chief Dean Baquet), floated a bit of speculation in her column:There's a lot of off-the-record stuff out there. It informs the material that is written and released. We get processed news, and it's very frustrating, because we don't trust those who are filtering the raw material. Now, we shouldn't trust those who are giving the off-the-record interviews either. Trump speaks to us and Trump speaks to the NYT. I presume he's sort of lying all the time. I presume that about all politicians.
The most optimistic analysis of Trump as a presidential candidate is that he just doesn’t believe in positions, except the ones you adopt for strategic purposes when you’re making a deal. So you obviously can’t explain how you’re going to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, because it’s going to be the first bid in some future monster negotiation session.Sources familiar with the recording and transcript — which have reached near-mythical status at the Times — tell me that the second sentence is a bit more than speculation. It reflects, instead, something Trump said about the flexibility of his hardline anti-immigration stance.
The NYT got what it got out of him, under the conditions of off-the-recordness. We get what we get out of the NYT, under the conditions of its interest in maintaining the capacity to assure sources that it will keep its promises. And we presume the NYT is biased in various ways and that it's selecting and skewing what it's giving us. Right now, it's under pressure to release more than it normally would, and the argument is that the impending nomination of Donald Trump presents a special case and the usual rules do not apply.
As for that "second sentence" — "So you obviously can’t explain how you’re going to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, because it’s going to be the first bid in some future monster negotiation session" — it reinforces what intelligent observers already assume and feel we've more or less heard in Trump's public statements.
Yes, Trump opponents would love to have the behind-the-scenes quote. We'd love to hear the way Trump would phrase it in secrecy as he tries to con NYT editors into seeing him as a reasonable, trustworthy candidate.
And yeah, I wrote "con" in that last sentence. It sprang to mind as the right word. I was not — not consciously — thinking of Rubio's new stock insult for Trump: "con man."
For the record, I assume politics involves conning. There must be conning. And we must be cunning about conning. He who says the other guy is a con man is also a con man. It's all a con. Now, everybody grow up. Quick, please. Because it is Super Tuesday.