Mark Lennihan / AP

President Trump got a 100-day gift on Sunday from the paper he had called "totally failing" at a rally the night before: The New York Times' Sunday Review began a campaign to get readers to "Say Something Nice About Donald Trump," and a cover story of the section respectfully channeled the Steve Bannon world view.

What's going on here: Neither of the pieces appeared to be sarcastic. Both appear to be part of the paper's effort to be more relevant in the Trump era.

Bret Stephens, a conservative columnist hired from the Wall Street Journal, debuted in Saturday's paper, calling for more balance in the climate-change debate.

At the time Stephens was hired, James Bennet, the paper's editorial page editor, told the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone it was an effort to "further widen" the range of views the paper presents to readers.

In Sunday's paper:

  • Michael Kinsley, the leading liberal, wrote an opinion piece, "The Upside to the Presidential Twitter Feed," praising Trump for composing tweets himself, and making "social media almost a part of our constitutional system": "[T]he average citizen now has a view straight into the president's id."
  • But the surprising part was the last graf: "So that's one good thing he has done for the country. Can you think of another? Please let me know at somethingnice@nytimes.com. We'll be revisiting this theme regularly in Sunday Review."
  • On the section's cover, in a piece called "The New Party of 'America First,'" theologian R.R. Reno, editor of the journal First Things, writes: "Mr. Trump's shocking success at the polls has done our country a service. Scholars may tut-tut about the historical connotations of 'America First,' but the basic sentiment needs to be endorsed. Our country has dissolved to a far greater degree than those cloistered on the coasts allow themselves to realize."
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