Ben Smith for Semafor interviewed Joe Kahn, the executive editor of The New York Times. Here is what Kahn had to say in response to Smith’s question about The Times’ role in saving democracy:

It’s our job to cover the full range of issues that people have. At the moment, democracy is one of them. But it’s not the top one — immigration happens to be the top [of polls], and the economy and inflation is the second. Should we stop covering those things because they’re favorable to Trump and minimize them? I don’t even know how it’s supposed to work in the view of Dan Pfeiffer or the White House. We become an instrument of the Biden campaign? We turn ourselves into Xinhua News Agency or Pravda and put out a stream of stuff that’s very, very favorable to them and only write negative stories about the other side? And that would accomplish — what?

I think The New York Times has completely misunderstood what “independent journalism” is. Kahn and other Times journalists, whose work I read regularly, think of us — those accusing The Times of journalistic malpractice — as wanting them to favor the Biden administration or to be against former President Donald Trump somehow. That couldn’t be farther from the truth — it is my firm belief that news shouldn’t be biased toward a political candidate.

News, however, should be biased toward the truth, and The Times warps the truth however it wants to fit the public’s narrative. That’s exactly what Kahn is doing here by using the polls as a determinant for what to cover and how to cover it. I understand the core message: that America’s most respected newspaper should cover America’s problems. But, oftentimes, America’s problems and the way it interprets them are disconnected from reality. It is the job of the country’s newspapers of record to influence public opinion, not report on only what Americans seem to care about.

It’s the job of the news media to report the facts without subjectivity, and Kahn clearly knows this and restates it multiple times throughout the interview. But, Kahn also released this piece of truth: “I think the general public actually believes that he’s responsible for these wars, which is ridiculous, based on the facts that we’ve reported,” referring to President Biden. If the public, by Kahn’s own admission, is so foolish to believe Biden started the wars in Europe and the Middle East, why should The Times’ newsroom cover reality through the public’s (incorrect) lens, as Kahn says The Times is doing?

The Times’ job is to cover reality, regardless of whether it favors the incumbent or his predecessor. Currently, it’s not doing that. It’s warping the news to please its audience, which is not news-making. Once again, my request is not for The Times to be a knight defending democracy by praising Biden’s every move. I want it to be objective in its reporting. Currently, it isn’t — and I feel like that is on purpose.