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How come the Wall Street Journal isn’t writing about WiretapGate?



What is the biggest story in the country? Right—Trump’s wiretapping allegation against Obama. It’s a huge story—historic, as big as new stories get—but you wouldn’t have known it, to read yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, which didn’t have a single mention of it: not on the front page, not on the editorial pages, nowhere.

Can you imagine a major American newspaper not reporting on, say, John Dean’s “cancer on the Presidency” remark during Watergate? How are we to account for this mysterious lapse? Several possibilities suggest themselves. One is that the paper’s managers honestly don’t think that WiretapGate is a big story. I don’t happen to agree, and I don’t think you do, either; but it is conceivable, in some alternative-fact universe.

Another possibility, more likely, is that word has floated down from MurdochLand: Play this story down! One can imagine the consternation in Rupert’s family. They were concerned about Trump from the beginning; didn’t support him; let Karl Rove, their pet columnist, maul Trump. But once Trump began winning primaries, one noticed a softening of tone; when he was actually elected, the coverage went from skeptical to, Well, let’s give him a chance. Now that he’s POTUS, the tone has changed to obsequious servitude: the Wall Street Journal is discovering all the goodness about Donald J. Trump they had somehow previously overlooked.

How this must make the Journal’s reporters—the real ones, not the hacks, like Daniel Henninger—is hard to imagine. They, the authentic journalists, work their asses off every day to do real reporting, only to have Murdoch’s proconsuls in the office kill stories left and right that are unflattering to this President and his regime. I mentioned Henninger just now. I like picking on him, because he’s so transparent. I can see the wheels turning: “How can I please Mr. Murdoch today?” And yet, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and Henninger, in yesterday’s column, actually said something true, although he didn’t do it because he’s interested in “truth” as a noble concept. No, he did it because, as a tea party radical, he really wanted Trump to do as he promised and repeal Obamacare, without bothering to replace it, because…well, he’s a Republican. As we all know, now, there is no repeal, nor will there be; nor is there quite the “replacement” that the tea party demanded, for there is no rational way of replacing it, as Republicans are ruefully coming to realize (but about which they were amply warned).

So here’s Henninger, peering out into the future, predicting that, “If this [Trumpcare] bill fails, there is only one Plan B. It will be a single-payer system enacted after 2020 with votes from what’s left of the Republican Party [which will] get wiped out in 2018 and lose the presidency two years later.”

Good stuff! But you have to understand, Henninger is not pleased with this prognostication, although I am. He’s royally pissed. When the Republicans lose the House and the Senate next year, reactionaries like Henninger will be able to say that it happened because Trump wasn’t radical enough—that he wasted his “mandate” (as if!) by compromising with Democrats. That unprovable assertion will be made by everyone who goes down with Trump. It will be their “The South will rise again” swan song; instead of flying the Stars and Bars, perhaps the diehards will put on their little MAGA caps.

In the end, why does WiretapGate matter? Because in the whirlwind of crazy Donald Trump lies, this one stands, majestically, Everest-like, above all the others. It is majestic in its evil. And it is something that the simplest American “gets.” Right now, the fact of its falsity is beginning to sink in, around the water coolers and dinner tables where the tea party gathers. “Do you think–?” “Could it be–?” “Did he make it up?” “I didn’t like Obama, but really…” Give this thing a few more weeks to fester. And, as for the senior Democrats in the House and Senate, a warning: If you let this go, you will kill your Party. Even I will look to a third party that still believes in honesty.

  1. Bob Henry says:

    From the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal today (March 22, 2017) — which over 3,800 readers responded to with comments.

    From The Wall Street Journal “Opinion” Section
    (March 22, 2017, Page A18):

    “A President’s Credibility”


    From The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board

    If President Trump announces that North Korea launched a missile that landed within 100 miles of Hawaii, would most Americans believe him? Would the rest of the world? We’re not sure, which speaks to the damage that Mr. Trump is doing to his Presidency with his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehoods.

    The latest example is Mr. Trump’s refusal to back off his Saturday morning tweet of three weeks ago that he had “found out that [Barack] Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory” on Election Day. He has offered no evidence for his claim, and a parade of intelligence officials, senior Republicans and Democrats have since said they have seen no such evidence.

    Yet the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims. Sean Spicer — who doesn’t deserve this treatment — was dispatched last week to repeat an assertion by a Fox News commentator that perhaps the Obama Administration had subcontracted the wiretap to British intelligence.

    That bungle led to a public denial from the British Government Communications Headquarters, and British news reports said the U.S. apologized. But then the White House claimed there was no apology. For the sake of grasping for any evidence to back up his original tweet, and the sin of pride in not admitting error, Mr. Trump had his spokesman repeat an unchecked TV claim that insulted an ally.

    The wiretap tweet is also costing Mr. Trump politically as he hands his opponents a sword. Mr. Trump has a legitimate question about why the U.S. was listening to his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and who leaked news of his meeting with the Russian ambassador. But that question never gets a hearing because the near-daily repudiation of his false tweet is a bigger media story.

    FBI director James Comey also took revenge on Monday by joining the queue of those saying the bureau has no evidence to back up the wiretap tweet. Mr. Comey even took the unusual step of confirming that the FBI is investigating ties between the Trump election campaign and Russia.
    Mr. Comey said he could make such a public admission only in “unusual circumstances,” but why now? Could the wiretap tweet have made Mr. Comey angry because it implied the FBI was involved in illegal surveillance?

    Mr. Trump blundered in keeping Mr. Comey in the job after the election, but now the President can’t fire the man leading an investigation into his campaign even if he wants to.

    All of this continues the pattern from the campaign that Mr. Trump is his own worst political enemy. He survived his many false claims as a candidate because his core supporters treated it as mere hyperbole and his opponent was untrustworthy Hillary Clinton. But now he’s President, and he needs support beyond the Breitbart cheering section that will excuse anything. As he is learning with the health-care bill, Mr. Trump needs partners in his own party to pass his agenda. He also needs friends abroad who are willing to trust him when he asks for support, not least in a crisis.

    This week should be dominated by the smooth political sailing for Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and the progress of health-care reform on Capitol Hill. These are historic events, and success will show he can deliver on his promises. But instead the week has been dominated by the news that he was repudiated by his own FBI director.

    Two months into his Presidency, Gallup has Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 39%. No doubt Mr. Trump considers that fake news, but if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President.

  2. Bob Henry says:

    “Yet the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims. . . .”

    Donald Trump is treating press spokesman Sean Spicer the way Richard Nixon treated Ron Ziegler.

    Those with long memories will recall Nixon physically shoving Ziegler in the direction of the press:

    “The Most Abused Press Secretary in History;
    Sean Spicer, meet Ron Ziegler.”


  3. Bob Henry, yes the WSJ finally came around. My theory: their news staff (as opposed to the op-ed writers, who are awful) were in open revolt against the paper’s coddling of Trump. Having worked as a reporter myself for many years, I can tell you that publishers usually despise their reporters as simpletons, but occasionally, when a news room is united in protest, the publisher needs to respond.

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