The editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal just took his staff to task for their coverage of President Trump. Gerard Baker sent a series of intense, late-night emails criticizing his staff over their coverage of Trump’s Tuesday rally in Phoenix. He described their coverage as overly opinionated. The Journal editor in chief has previously faced frustration from his journalists regarding his oversight of the newspaper’s coverage of the president. Some say it has lacked toughness and verve.
Baker emailed the following at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday morning to a group of Journal reporters and editors, “Sorry. This is commentary dressed up as news reporting.” He was responding to a draft of an article focused on the Phoenix rally intended for the newspaper’s final edition.
Baker then followed-up, “Could we please just stick to reporting what he said rather than packaging it in exegesis and selective criticism?”
The New York Times got a copy of Baker’s emails and noted that phrases about Trump that appeared in the proposed draft never made it to the final version published on The Journal’s website. The draft article in its lead paragraph described the Charlottesville protest and violence as “reshaping” Trump’s presidency. That language was removed. The draft also described Trump’s Phoenix speech as “an off-script return to campaign form,” in which he “pivoted away from remarks a day earlier in which he had solemnly called for unity.” Those statements did not make the article’s final version either.
When The Wall Street Journal was contacted about the emails, a spokesperson wrote in a statement: “The Wall Street Journal has a clear separation between news and opinion. As always, the key priority is to focus reporting on facts and avoid opinion seeping into news coverage.”
Gerard Baker was asked tough questions in February about his newspapers reporting on President Trump at an all-hands staff meeting. Some thought his leadership was too soft. Baker denied that idea and said that other newspapers had left their objectivity about the president. He also suggested that if journalists were unhappy with the news agency’s coverage, they could seek employment elsewhere.
Earlier this month, Politico published a transcript of a White House interview with President Trump conducted by Baker and several Journal reporters and editors. The editor in chief made small talk with the president about travel and golf. When Ivanka Trump, the president’s oldest daughter, walked into the room, Baker said to her, “It was nice to see you out in Southampton a couple weeks ago,” apparently referring to a party that they both attended. The Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who just recently dined with the president at the White House.
Do you agree or disagree with how The Wall Street Journal’s editor in chief is assessing the media’s coverage of the Trump presidency?
Credit: New York Times