Tuesday, February 14, 2017

WSJ Editor Defends Paper’s Coverage of Trump

Gerard Baker
Wall Street Journal Editor in Chief Gerard Baker on Monday aggressively defended the newspaper against criticism that its reporting on President Donald Trump has been soft, saying the coverage has aimed to hold the new administration accountable without becoming “oppositional.”

Monday’s event came after multiple media reports, citing unnamed news employees, described internal rancor at the Journal over its approach to covering the Trump administration under Mr. Baker’s leadership.

Baker said he has found it “irritating” to read critiques of the Journal’s coverage of Mr. Trump. He rattled off a string of Journal exclusives and in-depth articles as evidence of the paper’s aggressive coverage, including reporting on the president’s business conflicts and foreign dealings and the recent controversy surrounding Michael Flynn, his national security adviser.

“Don’t let anyone tell you our reporting on Donald Trump has been soft,” he said. “It’s been extremely tough.” Referring to the notion that the Journal has been timid, he said, “you might even call it fake news.”

Mr. Baker acknowledged the challenges Mr. Trump’s rise presents for journalists, noting the administration’s hostile attitude toward the press and that it “peddles falsehoods on a daily basis.”

Still, he said treating Mr. Trump as the enemy or becoming a “political protagonist,” as he accused some other news organizations of doing, isn’t the correct course and would harm the Journal. He encouraged Journal reporters to aggressively call out the administration’s falsehoods. He said the Journal isn’t banned from using the word “lie” in connection with Mr. Trump or his administration but said the bar is high, because the word connotes an intention to deceive that is hard to prove.

For reporters who don’t like the Journal’s approach to coverage, he said, “maybe there are better places for you to be.”

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