What’s behind the Journal’s anti-Trump campaign?

October 2nd, 2015 · 2 Comments · Fact Check, journalism, Koch brothers, tax policy

By Arthur Alpert

Most mornings, I read the Albuquerque Journal over breakfast, then turn to the computer to sample the Washington Post and NY Times.

The Post’s news stories are all over the lot, leaving me with no clue as to what the Post’s editorials will say.

The same is true of the NY Times; the stories and the editorials don’t cohere.

I don’t read the Wall Street Journal every day, but when I pick it up I find (even under Murdoch) that its news columns aren’t in synch with its editorial page.

Only the Albuquerque Journal allows me to trace a bold, colorful line from its “news” pages to its editorial stance. And backwards. Tracing the pattern is fun, sometimes so satisfying I almost forget it’s not journalism. Or, to couch it in positive terms, it’s evidence Journal management publishes a daily political broadsheet disguised as a newspaper.

And if you think that’s overstated, well, you have not been following the Journal’s campaign against poor Donald Trump, which reached its apotheosis Wednesday, Sept. 30, with an Associated Press “Fact Check” on Trump’s tax plan on A5.

There had been a few news stories leaning anti-Trump and a few anti-Trump opinion pieces and even an editorial slapping him (August 5) but this study of Mr. Trump’s tax plan soared above. You see, Jeff Horwitz’s analysis said the scheme “would also be likely to help the wealthy – including people like himself.”

Predictably, the Journal ignored his lead and headlined Horwitz’ conclusion that “Math in Trump’s tax plan doesn’t add up”. However, in the second deck, a Journal editor wrote:

“Often, wealthy will benefit the most.”

Unbelievable! Unprecedented! The Journal’s second-deck rubric actually referred to the rich getting richer. And the editors ran it over a story that questioned redistributing wealth upwards by way of the tax code.

Lordy, Lordy, how great is the Journal hierarchy’s hatred or fear of The Donald? Sufficiently so that the editors would, to denigrate him, contradict the Journal’s own basic narrative? Yes, I think so.

To fully appreciate the Journal’s anti-Trump campaign, however, you need to contrast it with the editors’ warmth and kindness to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Of course, the daily published plenty of stories on his successful anti-union efforts in Wisconsin. There was one Op Ed from Bloomberg (Thursday, Feb. 5, 2025) arguing that his lack of a college degree shouldn’t prove an obstacle – which left me wondering who’d oppose Walker on those grounds. The Journal also ran a suspiciously truncated wire report when the Wisconsin Supreme Court threw out a case involving Walker’s 2012 campaign finances. (Sorry, I cannot find it.)

Somehow, stories indicating Walker might be flawed haven’t made the cut. There wasn’t one account of his stewardship of the Wisconsin economy, which if you credit Christopher Flavelle’s Bloomberg column, “Scott Walker’s Lagging Indicators”, Feb. 24, 2015, was between “lackluster and a failure.”

Nor did the Journal cover Walker’s decision to commit Wisconsin taxpayers to pay at least $400 million for a new basketball arena owned by private parties. Which coincided with a $200,000 donation by the co-owners of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks to a group backing the Governor’s ambitions.  (Tim Jones and John McCormick, Aug. 11, 2015, Bloomberg.)

And nary a word about my favorite Scott Walker exploit, reported by Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post Feb. 5, 2015 under the following rubric:

How Gov. Walker tried to quietly change the mission of the University of Wisconsin”.

“You might think,” she wrote, “that changing the mission of a flagship public university would be an issue put up for public discussion. Not in Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker submitted a budget proposal that included language that would have changed the century-old mission of the University of Wisconsin system — known as the Wisconsin Idea and embedded in the state code  — by removing words that commanded the university to “search for truth” and “improve the human condition” and replacing them with “meet the state’s workforce needs.”

I love that.

Following an outcry the Governor quickly abandoned the cause, but this told me (the citizen) what I needed to know about him. As the Journal’s failure to report it should tell readers all they need to know about its journalism.

Let’s conclude by noting Scott Walker’s presidential campaign was born, soared, crashed and burned with not one word in the Albuquerque Journal about the Koch brothers, who almost endorsed him.

Google “Kochs almost endorse Scott Walker” and read to your heart’s content what the Journal found not newsworthy.

Perhaps the Journal’s arrangement with the Kochs extends beyond the daily’s pledge to print a steady stream of Op Ed essays from Koch front groups while keeping readers ignorant of who paid for them. Perhaps being in cahoots means the editors must also look away from the brothers’ behind-the-scenes politicking.

Wait. The Kochs dislike Trump. Does that explain the Journal’s antagonism? I don’t know but if I continue reading what the Albuquerque Journal calls “news” I’ll find out.

Because following the bold, colorful line from the Journal’s editorials to its “news coverage” (and visa-versa) works every time.

How sad.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Roland Penttila

    I can’t decide who I hate the most. Wall Street bankers or the Koch Brothers. I guess, in most terms of comparison, they are the same.

  • Emanuele Corso

    Arthur – well put – the Republican agonistes is in full bloom. No matter which direction they turn the choices and options are dismaying and the big money people know that as well does their media – a.k.a. Propaganda Machine. I think we are going to witness (be treated to) an internecine bloodbath before it’s over.

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