WSJ Head Has To Defend Outlet's Neutral Trump Coverage

When the WSJ has to defend actual journalism, that's a problem.

Gerard Baker, the editor in chief of The Wall Street Journal, felt the need to defend his paper's coverage of President Trump on Monday because ... some journalists think it's been too objective. 

An article in the The NY Times details a recent town-hall meeting with WSJ staff in which Baker rebutted claims that his outlet has been too soft on Trump. The Times reports: 

Facing tough questioning at a town-hall-style meeting with the staff, Mr. Baker denied that The Journal had been too soft in its coverage, according to several people who participated in the meeting. He suggested that other papers had discarded objectivity, and that anyone who wanted to work at an organization with a more oppositional stance toward the administration could find a job elsewhere, these people said.

“It’s a little irritating when I read that we have been soft on Donald Trump,” he said, according to three of the people.

During the meeting, which lasted more than an hour and a half, Mr. Baker addressed the unease among some in the newsroom who feared that the paper was holding them back from aggressively covering Mr. Trump — and that he might be playing a role in shaping more favorable coverage.

Mr. Baker offered a different interpretation, according to two participants in the session: The administration wants to engage the news media in a battle, he said, and The Journal should not become part of it.

“We can’t allow ourselves to be dragged into the political process, to be a protagonist in the political fight,” he said, according to one of the people. He said that Americans already distrusted the news media, and that if The Journal covered Mr. Trump in an overly confrontational way, that distrust might increase.

He joked that any stories suggesting The Journal had been soft in its coverage of Mr. Trump were akin to “fake news.”

Apparently the dust-up began two weeks ago when Baker instructed WSJ editors to not engage in misleading language about Trump's executive orders on immigration. He asked they avoid the phrase "seven majority Muslim countries" and clarified that the order's language did not include such verbiage. "[There is ] no ban on the phrase ‘Muslim-majority country" he wrote, but "always be careful that this term is not offered as the only description of the countries covered under the ban."

Never mind that Baker is absolutely correct; his were fighting words to those who only care about churning out fake news. 

As someone who's followed WSJ's Trump coverage throughout the primary and presidential campaigns through today, I've found its tone to be more in-sync with the sentiment of anti-Trump establishment Republicans. We suppose that as long as an outlet isn't likening the president to Hitler, the mainstream media will consider that "too soft."

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