Donald Trump called for the New York Times to retract its Oct. 12 story about allegations that he inappropriately touched two women.
New York Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told iMediaEthics by e-mail today, “We stand by the story, which falls very clearly into the realm of public service journalism.”
The New York Times‘ Oct. 12 article by Megan Twohey and Michael Barbaro is headlined, “Two Women Say Donald Trump Touched Them Inappropriately.”
The article reported Jessica Leeds’ allegation that Trump “grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hands up her skirt” on a flight “more than three decades ago,” and Rachel Crooks’ allegation that in 2005 Trump kissed her.
The Times‘ article noted that Trump called reporter Megan Twohey a “disgusting human being” when she asked him about the allegations and that he threatened to sue over the claims by the victims, which he claimed were fake.
Hours after the story was published, Trump’s lawyer sent a letter via e-mail to Times‘ executive editor Dean Baquet, which the Trump campaign posted on its website. The letter calls the Times‘ report “reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel per se.”
“It is apparent from, among other things, the timing of the article, that it is nothing more than a politically-motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump’s candidacy,” the letter from lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz reads. “That is why you apparently performed an entirely inadequate investigation to test the veracity of these false and malicious allegations, including why these two individuals waited, in one case 11 years, and in another case, more than three decades, before deciding to come forward with these false and defamatory statements.”
The Times also responded with a letter to Trump’s lawyers. saying “we decline” to retract and that Trump’s previous comments including the hot mic tape of his conversation with Billy Bush, his comments about going into dressing rooms for beauty pageants, and telling Howard Stern it was OK to call his daughter Ivanka Trump a “piece of ass,” make it so that the Times‘ article wouldn’t have “the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.”
In addition, the Times argued the story was “an issue of national importance” and that the Times‘ reporters “diligently worked to confirm the women’s accounts.”
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“We did what the law allows: We published newsworthy information about a subject of deep public concern,” the Times‘ lawyer David E. McCraw wrote. Further, he said, “we welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight.”
The NYT writes a letter back to Trump's lawyers – note the second paragraph and the last line of the letter: pic.twitter.com/EPwlrDrvyU
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) October 13, 2016
The Trump campaign also issued a statement responding to an article on People.com about Trump sexually assaulting the writer, Natasha Stoynoff.
Stoynoff wrote that in 2005, she went to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago to interview Donald and Melania Trump. When Melania Trump left the room, Donald Trump brought her into a room and “within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.” Stoynoff wrote that a butler walked into the room and later Trump told her, “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?”
In response, Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks said in a statement on the Trump campaign website that “there is no merit or veracity to this fictional story,” but made no demand for retraction or lawsuit threat.