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Smoke and Mirrors: Wall Street Journal consistently plays down bad news on Trump



While I loathe the Wall Street Journal and everything it stands for—which is essentially Rupert Murdoch’s anti-tax, pro-billionaire, hawkish, anti-liberal, xenophobic and often racist policies—I feel like I have to subscribe in order to see what the enemy is up to.

“The enemy”? Well, Donald Trump hates fair-minded newspapers and media outlets, like the New York Times, NBC and the Washington Post, which he calls “the enemy.” So, since I tend to agree with them, that makes me Donald Trump’s enemy. And the friend of my enemy is thus my enemy. Hence I’m entitled to call the Wall Street Journal “the enemy.”

There’s a classic Wall Street Journal trick they play to slant the daily news, and yesterday’s was it: the poster child for smoke-and-mirrors obfuscation. Granted, the WSJ doesn’t obfuscate bad Trump stories as much as does Fox “News.” I swear, the worse the news gets for this illegitimate President, the more Fox ignores it and goes to commercials. That’s how they wave shiny objects in front of their viewer-addicts (not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier), so they don’t have to suffer the knowledge of just how catastrophic this so-called “administration” is.

(I call it a “so-called” administration because, you know, that’s a riff on Trump’s “so-called Judge” remark, but I could have called it an “alternative facts” administration because—well, does anyone remember Kellyanne Conway? Long-haired blond white chick, mid-40s? Whatever happened to her?)

So here we are smack-dab in the middle of Sessionsgate, the biggest Trump-Russia scandal yet—which is saying a lot, since there have been so many—a scandal which was blared across the front pages of nearly every national newspaper in the country. But what about the Wall Street Journal? They buried it yesterday below the fold, which is the ghetto in newspaper real estate. What was their main story? “Stocks Surge as Optimism Rises.”

Now, I’m as glad as the next 401(K) owner that the market is doing well, but is that a more important story than what looks more and more like the Attorney-General’s perjury before the Senate, and the possibility of Trump’s treason? And it’s not just Sessions; he’s merely the latest “fruit from the poisoned tree” to pollute our politics from trumpland. The WSJ could have, and should have, treated this story with the importance it deserves, but no. Instead, we get a puff piece on how “optimistic” everybody’s feeling over this Trump regime.

Umm, I hate to tell the Wall Street Journal, but most Americans don’t like Trump. He has record disapproval ratings, with nearly 50% of Americans disapproving of his conduct as of March 2. As for the surging stock markets, if you look at the Dow over the last five years, it’s been on an upward trajectory; if you go even further back, to 1980, it also shows that continuous upward curve, especially since 2010, after it started to recover sharply under, yes, President Obama. So this nonsense about a “Trump boom” is a load of horse manure.

And we’re still on the front page! To really experience the WSJ’s odiousness, you have to turn to the op-ed pages. Now, there was plenty of time for the writers to churn out their pieces on Sessionsgate. The news broke last night. A good editorial writer needs no more than 30 minutes to do the job. But what do we see in yesterday’s paper? Henninger opining on the “resistance” of the Democrats, as if it were bad to be opposed to a fascist, authoritarian, wannabe dictator who is, moreover, so incompetent. There also are hit pieces on unions (Murdoch’s bête noir) and on feminism, this last, from Darya Safia, accusing “progressive women” of “never stand[ing] up for the basic rights” of women in Muslim countries.

Really? Does that comport with anything you’ve ever read about progressive women? Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote for President, gave a famous speech in 2011 at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum, in which she called strongly for women’s rights in the Mideast. Among her remarks: “You can’t claim to have a democracy if half the population is silenced.”

I guess Ms. Safai, who wrote the anti-feminist screed, missed that. Talk about fake news and alternative facts! Or, let’s call it what it is, lies. Anyhow, now that Sessions has recused himself, maybe the various Congressional committees and the FBI who are investigating Trump’s ties to Putin’s Russia can finally get down to business. They had better. This thing is smelling more and more like Watergate, and Republicans are starting to get very, very nervous, even if the Wall Street Journal is pretending that everything with this catastrophic POTUS is copasetic.

  1. Bob Henry says:

    “But what about the Wall Street Journal? They buried it yesterday below the fold, which is the ghetto in newspaper real estate. What was their main story? ‘Stocks Surge as Optimism Rises.'”

    Below the fold is not considered “the ghetto” in newspaper real estate.

    It is still on the front page — a position so prominent that most newspapers won’t even sell advertising space on that page.

    The “ghetto” is a word whose use may offend some. (See Tom Wark’s wine blog:

    A far worse position would be buried in “outer Siberia”: the back pages of the “Main News” section “A” just before the “op-ed” pages. Further deeply buried if the story ran in the back pages of “Main News” section “A” over the weekend.

    The Wall Street Journal is first and foremost a business newspaper. And to its 2-plus million subscribers that headline about the stock market’s rise resonates with them. They don’t subscribe to The Journal first and foremost for its political coverage. (There are other newspapers and magazines which boast far superior expertise and expansive coverage.)

    Putting the Sessions story on the front page garnered a higher level of readership than if The Journal editors buried it in the back pages.

    “Now, there was plenty of time for the [op-ed page] writers to churn out their pieces on Sessionsgate. The news broke last night. A good editorial writer needs no more than 30 minutes to do the job. . . .”

    I hope your “30 minutes” quote is hyperbole on effectively researching/conceiving/crafting a thoughtful editorial.

    There may have been logistical issues that thwarted inserting an editorial at the 12th hour if the paper was about to go to press or already on the presses.

    Give it day (like today, Friday) and the weekend to see how The Journal’s “op-ed” page(s) respond to Sessions recusing himself from the investigation.

    Friday’s news today:

    “Jeff Sessions to Recuse Himself From Trump Campaign Probes”
    Wall Street Journal – 7 hours ago [5 PM PT Thursday]


    I spent many years as an ad agency executive negotiating with the leading newspapers and magazines in the country to position my Fortune 500 clients’ display ads adjacent to high readership editorial.

    I would have killed to get an ad on the front page of The Wall Street Journal or New York Times or Los Angeles Times or Chicago Tribune or San Francisco Chronicle . . . because I know that page garners the highest readership numbers every day. (But that space was sacrosanct — reserved for “hard news.”)

    The Sessions story got the best Journal coverage it could yesterday on page one.

  2. Bob Henry says:

    “But what about the Wall Street Journal? THEY BURIED IT YESTERDAY BELOW THE FOLD, which is the ghetto in newspaper real estate. What was their main story? ‘Stocks Surge as Optimism Rises.’”

    I was at my local public library yesterday, and sought out a copy of The Journal issue in question.

    Memory can play cruel tricks on us Steve.

    The cited Sessions article headline appeared ABOVE the fold on page one.

    The body of the article appeared below the fold.

    So The Journal gave the Sessions story maximum publicity: Page One Above the Fold.

  3. Bob Henry says:

    Oh, boy! I already hear Steve sharpening his pencil on this one:

    “Trump Faces Furor Over Unsubstantiated Claim Obama Wiretapped Him”
    Wall Street Journal – Two Days Ago

    “FBI Asks Justice Department to Rebut Trump’s Wiretap Claim”
    Wall Street Journal – One Day Ago

    “White House Seeks Congressional Probe of Wiretap Claims”
    MarketWatch – 1 Day Ago

    “Senators Say They’ll Investigate Trump’s Wiretap Claims, Despite ‘No Evidence’”
    MarketWatch – 1 Day Ago

    “Fact-Checking Trump’s Defenses of His Wiretapping Claim”
    New York Times – 8 Hours Ago


    “Trump’s Wiretapping Claims Puncture Veneer of Presidential Civility”
    New York Times – 6 Hours Ago


  4. Bob Henry, the WSJ plays a very interesting game. Their news division isn’t bad, but they do tend to put unflattering Trump stuff inside the book, and when they have to have something on the front page, it’s delivered in measured terms. The op-ed pages are, of course, obscene. I think the real reporters on the WSJ wish they had a freer hand in exposing Trump’s lies and mental illness, but they know the rules. That’s always the way it is with publishers: the rules aren’t spelled out anywhere, but are inhaled, and understood.

  5. Bob Henry says:

    The “real” staff reporters and editors at The Journal will doggedly pursue Trump to offer proof on the wiretap allegation.

    Already one Journal “Opinion” page columnist is ridiculing Trump for his allegation:

    “The Vertigo Presidency”



    “We are now in the seventh week of Donald Trump’s presidency, and if fair-minded detractors and fans of his administration can agree on anything, it’s that this is not going well. Mr. Trump isn’t simply failing on terms set by his opponents, which is a given for most presidents. He is failing on his supporters’ terms, too. Making America Great Again was not supposed to be a belly-flop into the cloudy pond of Mr. Trump’s psyche.

    “Last weekend brought the latest self-inflicted wound via Mr. Trump’s early-morning tweet that Barack Obama ‘had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower’ just before the election. For good measure, the president added that his predecessor’s behavior was reminiscent of Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon.”

  6. Bob, yes the WSJ from time to time has a token critical voice on the op-ed page. So what? 95% of the crap there could have been written by rupert. Remember, they LED the attack on Barack Obama, for the simple reason that he tried to move this country a tiny little bit to the left. The billionaire class, of which the murdochs are members, wants totally unfettered freedom to rip off the 99%, with no supervision. They want to be able to engage in pilfering, looting, hiding their money, buying more mansions, and enjoying all the perks of being rich–while blaming poor people for their own problems. And now they have a champion in the white house. It is beyond disgusting. Hillary said it best: basket of deplorables.

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