New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said he has warned junior staff that the paper will not openly back Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) or Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) due to concerns about appearing too political.
"They probably want a more political New York Times than I’m willing to give them," Baquet told the Guardian. "I hope they will learn over time that a New York Times that plays it straight has much more power and much more longevity."
Baquet added that newsrooms have undergone shifts in attitudes toward news coverage with the arrival of younger journalists. He said the new generation of reporters have "different demands of their news" and want a "different relationship with their readers."
The veteran editor pointed to an investigation of President Donald Trump's taxes as an example of how the paper can have an impact without being openly partisan. Baquet stressed that his job is to cover the news with "tremendous curiosity," while at the same time resisting calls from readers and staff to be more combative with the Republican president.
Baquet has acknowledged some of the Times‘s shortcomings since becoming executive editor in 2014. Shortly after the 2016 election, he admitted that the paper was out of touch with "devoutly religious Americans."
The paper also ran a headline over the summer that drew heavy backlash online for not being more critical of President Trump's rhetoric. The Times eventually retracted and changed the headline. Baquet criticized the initial headline but also emphasized that the paper is not leading an "opposition party" to the president.
A 2014 study found that only 7 percent of journalists identify as Republican, a marked decrease from previous decades when the number was closer to 25 percent. Another recent survey of financial journalists saw 58 percent identifying as "very" or "somewhat" liberal, while about 4 percent identified as "very" or "somewhat" conservative.