The Wall Street Journal proudly proclaims that it’s not The New York Times

I almost never read the Wall Street Journal, mainly because it’s behind a paywall and I don’t want to fork out the dosh. Also, I believe it’s mostly about finance, which doesn’t interest me. However, Malgorzata, knowing of my dislike of the new New York Times, sent me this link and a transcript, which I put below. Note that is is by “The Editorial Board.”

Here (I don’t know bupkes about the letter from the WSJ employees), but perhaps some reader can put a link in the comments.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: “WE ARE NOT THE NEW YORK TIMES”

A Note to Readers
These pages won’t wilt under cancel-culture pressure.
By The Editorial Board
Wall Street Journal
July 24, 2020

We’ve been gratified this week by the outpouring of support from readers after some 280 of our Wall Street Journal colleagues signed (and someone leaked) a letter to our publisher criticizing the opinion pages. But the support has often been mixed with concern that perhaps the letter will cause us to change our principles and content. On that point, reassurance is in order.

In the spirit of collegiality, we won’t respond in kind to the letter signers. Their anxieties aren’t our responsibility in any case. The signers report to the News editors or other parts of the business, and the News and Opinion departments operate with separate staffs and editors. Both report to Publisher Almar Latour. This separation allows us to pursue stories and inform readers with independent judgment.

It was probably inevitable that the wave of progressive cancel culture would arrive at the Journal, as it has at nearly every other cultural, business, academic and journalistic institution. But we are not the New York Times. Most Journal reporters attempt to cover the news fairly and down the middle, and our opinion pages offer an alternative to the uniform progressive views that dominate nearly all of today’s media.

As long as our proprietors allow us the privilege to do so, the opinion pages will continue to publish contributors who speak their minds within the tradition of vigorous, reasoned discourse. And these columns will continue to promote the principles of free people and free markets, which are more important than ever in what is a culture of growing progressive conformity and intolerance.

The piece refers indirectly to the NYT‘s adding caveats to Tom Cotton’s op-ed after the paper’s employees objected en masse, saying that the op-ed made employees of color feel “unsafe.” That, of course, was a palpably ridiculous claim, though nobody dares say that. Although I’m not in general aligned with the views of the conservative Wall Street Journal, I have to say that here they showed some spine, and in so doing “dragged” (as the kids say) the Paper of Record.

51 Comments

  1. Historian
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I do not like Tom Cotton. I abhor almost everything he says. And he is back in the news again, at least as far as the Huffington Post is concerned. It has posted an article by Mary Papenfuss entitled “Sen. Tom Cotton Calls Slavery Nation’s ‘Necessary Evil’ In Shocking Interview.” In an interview with an Arkansas newspaper, he attacked the 1619 Project (which I support). The Huffington Post article states the following:

    ————
    The senator told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that slavery was the evil ”upon which the union was built.”

    He made the stunning comment while discussing how slavery should be taught in schools.
    “We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country,” Cotton said. “As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built.”

    Cotton also noted that the “union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”
    Instead of portraying America as “an irredeemably corrupt, rotten and racist country,” the nation should be viewed “as an imperfect and flawed land, but the greatest and noblest country in the history of mankind,” he added.

    Cotton delved into his twisted view of the history of slavery as he discussed his bill — the Saving American History Act of 2020 — that would cut off federal professional development funds from any school district that teaches a curriculum linked to the 1619 Project.

    —————

    Apparently, the Huffington Post is most vexed by Cotton by referring to slavery ”as the necessary evil upon which the union was built.” Leaving aside what else Cotton said (which is subject to debate), it is undoubtedly true that the union was built on slavery as a necessary evil. I take Cotton to mean that there would not have been a United States if there was any serious movement at the Constitutional Convention to abolish slavery or even create a timetable for its abolition (the word “built” is somewhat ambiguous). At that time, even some southern slaveholders gave lip service to the notion that slavery was bad and maybe someday it would disappear, but subsequently nothing was done to advance this and slavery in the South only grew stronger. This is one of the main points of the 1619 Project and why it does a public service.

    So, Cotton is right (in this one statement) and the 1619 Project is right. Their views are not mutually contradictory. It is too bad Ms. Papenfuss can’t understand this.

    https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tom-cotton-interview-slavery-necessary-evil_n_5f1e4101c5b69fd4730e31ad

    • Posted July 27, 2020 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      I agree. The outrage over Cotton’s contorted phrase seems out of place. I am no historian but the idea that the idea that the Founding Fathers had to steer around slavery in order to get agreement is pretty much accepted wisdom, the awful 1619 Project notwithstanding. I dislike pretty much everything Cotton says but progressives need to pick their fights more carefully. Of course, “going too far” is pretty much the essence of Cancel Culture.

    • Timothy Harris
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:18 am | Permalink

      Did any of the Founding Fathers in fact describe slavery as the ‘necessary evil’ upon which the Union was built? Or is Cotton putting words into their mouth? How ‘necessary’ was it? ‘Necessary’ has a number of shades of meaning: ‘essential to’, ‘prerequisite for’, ‘inevitable’, ‘indispensable to’, and the word also strongly suggests that slavery was therefore justified by the supposedly good end it led to. Had he merely said that slavery was the evil on which the Union was built, I doubt whether people would be making so great a fuss.

      Robert Conquest quotes in ‘The Harvest of Sorrow’ from a memoir written by a former Communist activist who was involved in the the starvation and killing of around five million Ukrainian kulaks: ‘For I was convinced that I was accomplishing a great and necessary transformation of the countryside; that in days to come the people who lived there would be better off for it.’ I suggest reading chapter 14 of that great Russian-Jewish writer Vasily Grossman’s ‘Everything Flows’, which is about the Ukrainian famine and what was thought to justify it. Mao Tse-tung thought that the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution were necessary for the establishment of a truly communist society. There is the example of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, who also thought that mass-killings were were necessary for the establishment of a new society. And that of Hitler. Not to mention the belief of Cornwall Lewis, Charles Trevelyan, Lord Brougham and other members of the then British government that the necessity of protecting property and the ‘ordinary course of trade’ precluded the provision of relief to starving Irish peasants in the ‘Great Hunger’. Judith Shklar in her great ‘The Faces of Injustice’ writes well on the ‘Great Hunger’ and the uses of ‘necessity’ and ‘necessary’.

      Finally two quotations, the first from Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ and the second from William Pitt the Younger:

      “And with necessity, / The tyrant’s plea, excus’d his devilish deeds”

      “Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.”

      The words ‘necessity’ and ‘necessary’ bear a historical freight. And they bear also a dangerous present meaning.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:15 am | Permalink

        I should add that I think that Tom Cotton deserves every bit of opprobrium he gets.

      • Historian
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:41 am | Permalink

        As I noted above, Cotton’s words “necessary” and “build” are not all that clear. I took them to mean that without slavery there would not have been a United States since the southern slave states would never have joined the union. I suppose others can give different meanings to those words.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink

          Well, I don’t think one can simply assume that a word means only one thing, and in view of the troubled history of the word and its use, past & present, to justify great evils, not to mention Cotton’s own avowed political beliefs, I honestly do not think that Cotton’s use of it is as innocent as many people on this thread seem to assume.

          • Filippo
            Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:14 am | Permalink

            ” . . . I honestly do not think that Cotton’s use of it is as innocent as many people on this thread seem to assume.”

            Perhaps Fate will smile and Cotton can be prevailed upon to sufficiently clarify his statement so that none of us here, there and everywhere must be restricted and resigned to what we think and/or seem to assume.

            • Tim Harris
              Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

              Mr Cotton seems rather determined not to make Fate or necessity smile in the way you want, alas, and is trying to pretend that he was only talking about the opinions of the Founding Fathers – I should be interested to learn which of the Founding Fathers came out with what Cotton says they said.

  2. DrBrydon
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I wish that more institutions would say ‘no, thanks, we think we’re doing what’s right’ in these circumstances. Good for them.

  3. AlTazim
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Noam Chomsky, certainly no lover of finance, conservatism, or capitalism, has remarked several times that the Wall Street Journal is one of the places he goes to get his news. Why? Because investors need as accurate info as possible, with minimal, spin, omissions, or distortion, in order to make good investment decisions. Obviously the op ed page is right wing, but you can still rely on the news section to give you “just the facts please, ma’am.”

    • Posted July 27, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      I don’t disagree but I prefer The Economist. It’s a bit more opinionated and a lot more interesting. Their opinions are always tied to facts, IMHO.

      • Curtis
        Posted July 27, 2020 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        I always liked the Economist for their US coverage because, even though they had a clear libertarian slant, they were non-partisan criticizing both the Democrats and Republican approximately equally. Now they are very anti-Trump (which is certainly justified) but it makes it harder to trust their view.

        If one article basically says Trump sucks (again I agree), you cannot really trust their next article on US politics to be unbiased. Trump sucks but it is useful to have a source that is unbiased enough to evaluate him impartially.

        • rickflick
          Posted July 27, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

          tRump is so over-the-top, negative comments on him are beyond biased. It’s like asking me to justify gravity.

        • Posted July 27, 2020 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

          You don’t think Trump sucks impartially? That Trump sucks is a reasonable assessment of the Economist’s overall position on our 45th president but, AFAIK, they always tell the reader precisely why he sucks, giving us what’s wrong with his actions and his agenda and telling us why it didn’t work or won’t work. It sounds like you are applying a false, “both sides” argument to your own opinion. I maintain that Trump sucks objectively.

        • AlTazim
          Posted July 27, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

          One of The Economist’s problems is its unflinching dedication to globalization; I find they tend to be much too deferential to China and the CCP (same is true of The Financial Times).

          • Curtis
            Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

            Yes, I totally agree. The biggest thing I have learned from Trump’s victory is how much globalization has hurt the working class in the west. The elite have benefited but the inner cities and rural areas have been screwed.

            For example, the Economist had an article about how successful Turkish barbers were becoming in the UK. It’s great for the Turkish immigrants (and that is a good thing) but it is another working class profession that is being lost for the natives. The Economist fails to mention the downside.

            https://www.economist.com/britain/2020/01/16/why-turkish-barbers-are-taking-over-britains-high-streets

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Seems like a chest-pounding Tarzan-style king-of-the-jungle yell to me (especially with its “these pages won’t wilt” subhed echoing the “these colors don’t run” slogan of the über-patriots’ flag-bearing bumper stickers).

    How ’bout you shut up and show ’em rather than tell ’em?

    Plus, though the WSJ has maintained its first-rate news division, its in-house editorial writing has been an embarrassment to responsible conservatism since the Murdoch clan took over the show.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted July 27, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      I think they felt they had to respond publicly because the letter was leaked.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 27, 2020 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Okay, but the piece doesn’t respond to any specific allegations made in the letter (and I wouldn’t ignore completely the possibility that the leak came from the editorial side itself so it could go on its chest-pounding jag).

        • Filippo
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

          ” . . .(and I wouldn’t ignore completely the possibility that the leak came from the editorial side itself so it could go on its chest-pounding jag).”

          Perhaps a WSJ or other reporter will find out one way or the other and let us know. (As opposed to the prevailing NYT modus operandi of styling headlines and reportage as “might be” or “could be.”)

    • Posted July 27, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      I agree but it was also an easy judgement for WSJ to make. They hardly risk losing subscribers by rejecting extreme progressives. It’s also consistent with its Murdoch ownership. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they seek to fill the relative vacuum that the NYT has created by catering to the Woke.

  5. Type Logician
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Things may be a bit more complex than the
    cancel-vs.-free-debate conflict here. Don’t know how reliable the NYT is on this issue, but if the story here (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/24/business/media/wall-street-journal-news-opinion-clash-letter.html) is correct, the problem seems to involve issues of accuracy and source protection that the Newsroom side feels have been quite sloppily handled on the Opinion side of WSJ.

    Of course, it *is* the NYT’s take on the content of the disagreement, so some corroboration is definitely in order…

  6. dd
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    In terms of what Senator Cotton said, here is the sentence from the Arkansas Gazette:

    “We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction,” he said.”

    Is Cotton hiding behind the Founding Fathers to express his own sentiments? And to which Founding Father, maybe all, does he refer?

    Cotton is time and again indefensible, but the Huffington Post (and the Guardian which also reported similarly) could have gotten that quotation/context accurately and then followed up with asking him or his office his sentiments on it.

    BTW, that Nikole Hannah-Jones, editor of the “1619 Project”, would also take the question out of context is no surprise as her mode isn’t accuracy, but narrative (as it is for many new-hires at the Times and her milieu). In fact, she and Cotton have more in common in how they deal with ideas than would make either one comfortable.

    https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2020/jul/26/bill-by-cotton-targets-curriculum-on-slavery/?fbclid=IwAR39j-t5sqGSypP5QJm9pFscxuiTb1aMknKkpojqzN8Z21acj8QPT1bllzc

  7. Jon Gallant
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Do news-stands still exist? If so, then some of them must have piles of the NYT right next to piles of the WSJ. Surely this must make the more anxious members of the NYT staff feel unsafe. Perhaps we can soon expect a public letter on this sensitive issue.

  8. dd
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    The catalyst for that letter to the Wall Street Journal may have been an op-ed in the WSJ written by Heather McDonald in which she uses statistics counter to the prevailing narratives regarding crime and race.

    The authors of the cited study disavowed it almost instantly after her use of it.

    Here is a link where she talks about the fracas:
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/i-cited-their-study-so-they-disavowed-it-11594250254

    And here is the op-ed:
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-myth-of-systemic-police-racism-11591119883

  9. elihershkovitz
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Newspaper aficionado here. I avoided the WSJ for years thinking the paper covered mostly financial news. I became a trial subscriber three years ago after canceling my NYTs subscription and a full subscriber once the trial elapsed. I could not be happier. The WSJ covers far more news than financials and the last four pages (editorial and op-ed) are my favorite. I frequently clip from those pages to share with my collegiate-recovering daughters. The paper is grounded, exudes common sense, and is the most un-woke newspaper out there. Letters to the editor reflect scholarship and reading mastery. Saturday’s Review section is exceptional and there are inserts throughout the week that cover real estate, fashion, retirement, tech, and other topics.

    • dd
      Posted July 27, 2020 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      So, this is the paper version? About $400/year?

      • elihershkovitz
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Yes, outrageously expensive, but if you know someone with an .edu account the price drops to $120/year (plus a generous tip to your .edu sponsor).

  10. rickflick
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I can’t help quoting the amusing Andy Borowitz today:

    Rand Paul Thanks Tom Cotton for Replacing Him as Most Hated Person in Senate

    According to Senate insiders, Cotton beat out a daunting field of competitors.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 27, 2020 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      It’s no mean feat to pull off satire (that’s recognizable as such) in the self-satirizing Age of Trump (which is to say, in the Golden Age of Farce).

      • rickflick
        Posted July 27, 2020 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. Satirists have had to sharpen their game due to competition from reality.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 27, 2020 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

          On this precise topic, a satirical tweet stating that Trump supporters were “already feel[ing] the electricity” over an “all-star line-up of speakers for the new scaled-down virtual Republican Convention” that included “Ted Nugent, Scott Baio, Antonio Sabato Jr, and Diamond and Silk” had to be denied by the Trump campaign when many Trump supporters took it seriously.

          • Posted July 27, 2020 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

            But how does that qualify as satire? It’s entirely believable. I suppose the joke is that it doesn’t include people with serious policy opinions, only entertainers. Still, I would assume it was just not a complete list. Pence, Kellyanne Conway, etc. are just a given. Whoever is involved, it is bound to be a funny/scary event.

            • rickflick
              Posted July 27, 2020 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

              Yes, come to think of it, they would go over pretty well at a tRump live event. As long as they didn’t spend too much time on the podium.

          • rickflick
            Posted July 27, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

            I don’t know any of those. Had to Google. Ya, that would be quite a lineup, but not too weird, given the current state of affairs.

      • Posted July 27, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        Although it isn’t about Tom Cotton, I really enjoyed this recent one:

  11. Gary Fletcher
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    According to Wikipedia, the WSJ “editorial board has promoted views that differ from the scientific consensus on climate change, acid rain, and ozone depletion, as well as on the health harms of second-hand smoke, pesticides and asbestos.”

    • Posted July 27, 2020 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure how to weigh that. If the editorials pretty much coalesced around these anti-science positions, that is one thing. It is quite another if they have editorials from that side, plus editorials from the science side.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:31 am | Permalink

        Ah, ‘bothsidesism’ – what a wonderful journalistic invention! How we love it!

        • Tim Harris
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

          And talking of ‘bothsidesism’, which seems to be, at base, a tactic to avoid being seen as in favour of anything in particular, I wonder if anyone here has taken note of the contemptibly superficial and cynical article the NYT published on the speech made by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in which she excoriated a certain Yahoo who had accosted her rudely on the Capitol steps, called her a ‘fucking bitch’, and then delivered a sentimental, hypocritical and dishonest ‘apology’ to Congress.

  12. dogugotw
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    WSJ is owned by News Corp. Even if I could afford a subscription, I wouldn’t.

  13. Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    I tend to agree (with the WSJ! – go figure). In finance for a few decades I HAD to read it, gritting my teeth all the time, but they’re right here.

    Separately – conservatives get all mushy and nostalgic for Pres Reagan – and a sunny disposition (and not being insane) is good in a PotUS, but let’s not forget he is responsible for the hollowing out of the middle class, the near death of unions, a deranged foreign policy (El Salvador, anybody, Irangate?), buildup of useless militarism, a shot in the arm for the War on Drugs, killing of welfare (oh I could go on all day with similar egs.) Oh. And “astrology Nancy”. (sigh)

    MANY problems today are directly attributable to this man, despite his sunny disposition.
    D.A., J.D., Champaign Socialist/writer
    NYC

    • savage
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      The worst thing about Reagan is that he was utterly incapable of performing his duties. He did not have the necessary intelligence or personality traits.

      As a professional actor, he was good at delivering speeches and telling jokes. But the general public saw little of his inability to understand complex subjects and his unwillingness to even try.

      This has helped to establish the idea among Americans that any popular celebrity could be electable. This is mostly an issue with the Republicans, although both Oprah and Michelle Obama have been suggested as future presidents.

      • Filippo
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        “But the general public saw little of his [Reagan’s] inability to understand complex subjects and his unwillingness to even try.”

        I’d say there are not a few of the general public who empathize and identify with this this non-/anti-intellectualism. (Re: Hofstadter’s “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life” and Jacoby’s “The Age of American Unreason.”) Reagan said words-to-the-effect that government should not be in the business of subsidizing intellectual curiosity. In my view the voting public/taxpayers subsidized his anti-intellectualism.

      • rickflick
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        Incompetent presidents are a problem with democracy. How can you keep charming idiots from the White House? You can’t. The only way it works is if the guy has some backup doing all the hard stuff behind the scenes. Advisors and members of the Cabinet that take over the helm. Even then, a psychopath is not likely to listen to anybody. It’s a weakness. I’m for a series of qualifying exams to screen out idiots.

  14. Stephen Caldwell
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:50 am | Permalink

    I’ve always liked the reporting in The Wall Street Journal, but it’s opinion pages are a usual display of paleo-conservative knuckle-dragging. It got worse when Murdock took over.

  15. Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    The Financial Times is a much better paper, especially if you are have to pay for it. Both the WSJ and FT do a lot of coverage of topics other than finance. IMO, the WSJ used to have a very good news section. I think it has gone downhill since Rupert Murdoch bought it.

  16. Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    WSJ: More than a permutation away from SJW 😉

  17. Filippo
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    ‘ . . . and in so doing “dragged” (as the kids say) the Paper of Record.’

    I’ve also heard kids 4th/5th graders, from my limited experience) talk about someone being “roasted,” when someone offers, so to speak, a Hitchenesque comeback reply.

    • Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Isn’t that in the long comedy tradition? The surprise isn’t that the 4th and 5th graders made up “roast” but that they learned it. It even has its own Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roast_(comedy)

      • Filippo
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        “Isn’t that in the long comedy tradition?”

        I’ve no doubt that that’s true, but how many school kids are aware of it as a tradition? I perceive that one of their peers hears it and spreads it among the group.

        (“Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roast” comes to mind, especially Foster Brooks’s takedown of Don Rickles.)


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