Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker derided his reporters’ coverage of President Donald Trump’s Tuesday Phoenix rally in a late night email obtained by The New York Times.
“Sorry. This is commentary dressed up as news reporting,” Baker wrote in response to a draft report on the campaign style rally. “Could we please just stick to reporting what he said rather than packaging it in exegesis and selective criticism?” Baker wrote in the 12:01 a.m. Wednesday email.
Baker has previously faced pushback from members of his editorial staff over his insistence on covering Trump objectively. A number of reporters argued that Baker’s insistence on straight news reporting compromises their ability to hold Trump accountable during a full staff meeting in February. Baker responded to the criticisms by stressing that the WSJ should not allow themselves “to be dragged into the political process, to be a protagonist in the political fight,
The WSJ editor-in-chief redacted a number of phrases from the draft report that did not end up in the final copy. The lead paragraph in the initial draft described the Charlottesville riot as “reshaping” Trump’s presidency, and Baker removed that phrase. He also removed a description of Trump’s Phoenix rally as “an off-script return to campaign form.”
Baker came under fire for his coverage of Trump in early August after Politico published an unreleased transcript of his interview with Trump. Journalists and pundits criticized Baker for his friendly rapport with Trump and accused him of not asking difficult questions.
The WSJ defended Baker’s stance when contacted about the email by TheNYT.
“The Wall Street Journal has a clear separation between news and opinion. As always, the key priority is to focus reporting on facts and avoid opinion seeping into news coverage,” a WSJ spokeswoman said.
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