"The Fourth Estate": Inside the New York Times' coverage of Trump

"The Fourth Estate": Inside New York Times

The New York Times' coverage of President Trump is the subject of a new documentary series from Showtime called "The Fourth Estate" in which viewers get a behind-the-scenes look at Times journalists investigating and reporting the biggest stories of the administration's first year. Washington bureau chief Elisabeth Bumiller described what she and her team of reporters faced in the past year.

"It's hard because you often hear the exact opposite thing from very senior people at the White House in the same hour. You've got to balance out what is true and what is not. It's just a – it's a much bigger reporting challenge," Bumiller said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning."

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said they let cameras into their "modern newsroom" so the public "would understand that we're human beings, that we have a mission, that we make mistakes. But that we work extremely hard, that we're not biased."

"I just thought that the days when we would not allow people to see that process should be over. And I thought it would help us," Baquet said, sitting next to Bumiller in Studio 57.

Bumiller discussed the process of sourcing their stories, particularly with the rise of leaks from government officials.

"The federal bureaucracy is very leaky right now because it's a bureaucracy that's been there for a long time. And many of them are not happy with what Trump is doing," Bumiller said. "So we're finding that – I mean, also at the White House, there's a lot of different agendas and different people fighting with each other. So that creates a lot of information."

She emphasized that the reporters are not "passive recipients of leaks."

"One of the things I've learned as an editor is to watch so many different reporters work so many sources in different ways. They're amazing. And it's a lot of hard work. It's a lot of getting people to trust you. It's just – it's digging and putting stories together," Bumiller said.

In addition to reporting, Baquet addressed a scene from the series in which media columnist Jim Rutenberg says the Times is losing money to Facebook and Google. Baquet, who said the Times is "doing financially quite well," said Rutenberg is trying to make a larger economic point about technology platforms gaining advertising revenue at the expense of institutions like the Times. But he also admitted the Times has a "tense relationship with the platforms."

"On the one hand, we have to be where the readers are. Our power comes from being read. And they have a lot of our readers. On the other hand, I think they're struggling with how they manage us. I think they're struggling with how they define journalism. I think they're reeling, particularly Facebook, from the events of the last election," Baquet said.  

The first episode of "The Fourth Estate" will air on Showtime on Sunday, May 27. (Showtime is a division of CBS.)