The editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, Gerard Baker, has been the target of criticism from other publications and reporters in his own newsroom over the newspaper’s coverage of President Donald Trump, which some say has been too lenient.
After the president’s rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, at which he went on an extended rant against the media and reporters, Baker addressed what he saw as opinionated coverage by reporters and editors.
“Sorry. This is commentary dressed up as news reporting,” Baker wrote in response to a draft article about the rally, according to a copy of emails obtained by The New York Times.
“Could we please just stick to reporting what he said rather than packaging it in exegesis and selective criticism?” he continued.
The Times asked its more conservative-leaning competitor about Baker’s messages.
“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,” a spokesperson wrote.
Some on social media sided with Baker, seeing his viewpoint as hard to come by in the current media environment:
Amazing to me that an editor is under fire for telling reporters to stick to reporting/leave opinions up to readers. https://t.co/nM4BZTC9n6
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) August 24, 2017
That a news editor doing their job is now news is a testament to just how far journalism has fallen… https://t.co/MeeiGKys9H
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) August 24, 2017
Earlier this year, Baker had to field similar questions about the paper not being tough on the president. At a town hall-style staff meeting in February, he claimed other papers had given up on objectivity and that if staff wanted to pursue that route elsewhere, they were welcome to, people who participated in the meeting told The New York Times.
“We can’t allow ourselves to be dragged into the political process, to be a protagonist in the political fight,” Baker said, according to one of the people. He cited Americans’ general distrust of the media as a reason not to cover the president in a standoffish way, as the paper might then lose credibility given the current tense media atmosphere.
A 2014 Pew Research Center survey found that people who identify as solidly liberal and as solidly conservative — as well as three other mixtures of each political ideology — generally indicated the Journal was more trustworthy than it was untrustworthy.
Regardless, some Journal reporters are odds with Baker’s approach.
“We need to be able to cover the new administration with the probing, aggressiveness and authority that our readers deserve and pay for,” one journalist wrote in an email obtained by the Times.
The Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch, founder and current chairman of Fox News.