OLD Media Moves

Trump friction caused WSJ editorial board exodus

December 20, 2017

Posted by Chris Roush

WSJ 2017Sam Tanenhaus of Esquire writes about how friction at The Wall Street Journal editorial board over Donald Trump has caused five staff members to leave.

Tanenhaus writes, “Much has been written about friction between the Journal’s down-the-middle, just-the-facts news reporters and its highly ideological editorial department. But the more significant story — an obsession for the Never Trumpers— is the rupture within the Journal’s editorial pages and the exodus that resulted.

Bret Stephens, who won a Pulitzer in 2013, was the defector with the highest profile. He was deputy editor when he jumped over to the Times, where he was soon joined by his editor at the Journal, Bari Weiss. The Journal’s books editor, Robert Messenger, is now at The Weekly Standard. Sohrab Ahmari, a foreign-policy writer, went to Commentary. Mark Lasswell, an editor, was told not to return from a book leave.

“Those were heavy losses in pages whose content is managed by fewer than thirty people in total. And the reason, according to several defectors, was the Journal’s skidding reversal once Rupert Murdoch realized Trump could win. Several sources pointed to the editorials by one writer, James Freeman. ‘All-in for Ted Cruz’ during the primaries, Freeman wrote a strong attack on Trump’s Mob dealings, and had a second ready to go. But as Trump got closer to clinching the nomination, Paul Gigot kept delaying publication, saying ‘it needed work.’ Once Trump became the likely Republican nominee, Freeman executed a neat volte-face. ‘The facts suggest that Mrs. Clinton is more likely to abuse liberties than Mr. Trump,’ he wrote. ‘America managed to survive Mr. Clinton’s two terms, so it can stand the far less vulgar Mr. Trump.’

“Since then, the Journal has gone further. Even jaded readers were startled to see the editorial-page call for Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation, to resign. And when an op-ed urged Trump to issue blanket preemptive pardons for the accused, John Yoo, the theorist of the expansive ‘unitary executive’ and author of the Iraq War ‘Torture Memos,’ warned in the Times that the Journal’s advice would place Trump on the road to impeachment. (Neither Gigot nor Freeman replied to interview requests.)”

Read more here.

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