MEDIA

WSJ Employees Say Senior Editor Tried To Pull Story For Political Reasons

“This is censorship and it is beneath the standards of the Wall Street Journal," they wrote in a letter.
Employees at The Wall Street Journal circulated a letter this week that a senior editor tried to remove an already-publi
Employees at The Wall Street Journal circulated a letter this week that a senior editor tried to remove an already-published graphic about the financial crisis in an act of political censorship.

Wall Street Journal employees circulated a letter this week that alleges a “senior editor” at the newspaper attempted to remove an already-published multimedia graphic that the senior editor deemed “not politically palatable.” 

“This is censorship and it is beneath the standards of the Wall Street Journal. It isn’t the first time, either,” the letter reads. 

The graphic is not some small piece, but a wide-ranging multimedia effort titled “10 Years After The Crisis,” which takes a look at the uneven economic recovery in the decade since the 2008 financial crisis. The piece includes sections called “Revolving Door Still Spins,” “The Biggest Banks Are Still Big,” “For the Bailouts, Many Unhappy Returns,” and “On the Regulatory Front, Lots of Uncertainty.”

The project, which had been in the works for months, was originally published on Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. Eastern, according to a timestamp. Soon after, some senior editors decided the story was not complete enough and subsequently tried to see if the project could be pulled from the site, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

After that “failed,” according to the employees’ letter, the senior editor had the graphic removed from “as many places as possible.”

On Thursday, ProPublica reporter and former Wall Street Journal columnist Jesse Eisinger tweeted that he’d heard the senior editor in question was none other than Gerard Baker, the editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal. Eisinger has subsequently tweeted that Baker is demanding the piece be “redone” because it focused too much on “social/political” issues.

When reached for comment, Steve Severinghaus, senior communications director for Dow Jones, the Journal’s parent company, wouldn’t discuss Baker’s level of involvement. He confirmed that the “team will be adding additional reporting and analysis on the crisis and its aftermath,” but noted the project was never taken down.

Baker and his newsroom have appeared at odds since the election of President Donald Trump. Last August, Politico published a transcript of an interview Baker did with Trump that appeared unnecessarily cozy. Later that month, Baker reportedly sent an email to reporters and editors working on an article about a Trump rally that said, “Sorry. This is commentary dressed up as news reporting.”

He reportedly added, “Could we please just stick to reporting what he said rather than packaging it in exegesis and selective criticism?” 

Vanity Fair reported a few months later that many people at The Wall Street Journal are privately hoping Baker’s exit will be sooner rather than later. 

Here’s the letter Wall Street Journal staffers sent: 

This week a senior editor at the Wall Street Journal attempted to take a graphic offline because the facts it contained were not politically palatable. When that failed, it was “de-surfaced,” or in other terms, taken off the front page and links were removed to it from as many places as possible. After an early flurry of traffic, views plummeted. This is censorship and it is beneath the standards of the Wall Street Journal. It isn’t the first time, either.

We propose “resurfacing” the graphic far and wide. Please share it with anyone you can, on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, or any other platform.

Separately, we propose a massive tweet of the graphic at 12 p.m. (EST)/5 p.m. (GMT)/12 a.m. (Hong Kong). Please forward this message to anyone who you believe shares these values. Please forward this, whether in part of full to as many people at the WSJ as possible.

Here is the built-in social language:

How The World Has Changed Since 2008 Financial Crisis https://graphics.wsj.com/how-the-world-has-changed-since-2008-financial-crisis/  via @WSJGraphics

“Our business is publishing information, not withholding it. When there is news available about so vital a segment of our economy as the automobile industry we intend to be free to use our own best judgment about publishing it, undeterred by the fact that it may not be ‘authorized.’” — 1954 Wall Street Journal editorial facing down General Motors.

If you have any additional information, you can email Maxwell Strachan at maxwell@huffpost.com or maxwellhuffpost@protonmail.com. 

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