Wall Street Journal reporters clash as opinion section prints Trump letter to editor

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A day later, the editorial board of the Journal justified the decision by saying “we trust our readers to form their own opinion on his statement”.

Former Journal staff said the letter fell well below the publication’s standards. And some current staff members have expressed frustration on condition of anonymity.

The Journal’s opinion operation is separate from the newsroom – and sometimes squarely opposed to the news side. But both are part of Rupert Murdoch’s darling newspaper, which is a key part of News Corp’s portfolio.

Several Journalists complained about the letter after it came out on Wednesday, but none were surprised it was published, given the right-wing and contrarian leaning of the Opinion section.

“I think it is very disappointing that our opinion section continues to publish misinformation that our information team is trying to debunk,” said one of the reporters. “They should hold themselves to the same standards as us!”

This is all the more striking as the Journal’s newsroom has been praised for its extensive coverage of disinformation on Facebook. Whistleblower Frances Haugen shared with the Journal documents that formed the basis of the Facebook files series.
Yet the Opinion section provides a forum for the same kind of bogus content – in this case, election denial – which Facebook (FB) has been criticized.
“Putting falsehoods and misinformation in your newspaper and your website is a disservice to your readers. It violates their trust and tarnishes your brand image, ”said Ken Herts, a senior executive at the Journal, wrote on Twitter. Herts is now COO of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Herts was responding to a former associate editor of the Journal, Bill Grueskin, who wrote, “Why didn’t the editorial page check the facts or remove the most egregious lies? Good question ! “
Similar disputes on different standards have erupted in the past between information and opinion camps and have sometimes dumped in public view.
Some members of the Journal’s editorial staff on Wednesday hinted at their displeasure through retweets criticizing Trump’s letter. At least one journalist retweeted Matt Fuller of the Daily Beast, who wrote: “Newspapers don’t exist so powerful people can publish whatever lies they want. In fact, this may be one of the very opposite reasons why newspapers exist.

But the Journal’s editorial board argued that it was well within its purview to publish Trump’s claims.

“We think it’s news when an ex-president who might run in 2024 wrote down what he did, even though (or maybe especially if) his claims are bananas,” the editors wrote. Thursday.

Of course, Trump makes baseless claims about last year’s election all the time, through emailed statements and right-wing TV interviews. The Journal’s editors conceded that, “Mr. Trump is making these claims elsewhere, so we have done him a little disservice by letting him respond to our editorial. We offer the same courtesy to others we criticize, even when they make claims that we believe are false. “

A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can register for free here.



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