The Journal’s Trump Problem

September 1st, 2016 · No Comments · journalism

By Arthur Alpert

We’ve already done three performances of “Electoral Dysfunctions”, eight short plays on political themes at the new Vortex on Carlisle, with two more weekends to go, but I’m feeling pretty good about my role. I wrote and perform –in a Trumpian wig – an introduction to the show that Sunday’s audience, bless ‘em, found funny.

That’s satisfying because it isn’t easy to provoke laughter about a man whose real political efforts are no laughing matter.

As the Albuquerque Journal’s coverage of Mr. Trump is no laughing matter.

As you surely noticed, the Journal didn’t want the Donald to be the GOP nominee. It ran news stories and opinion pieces favoring Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin first and after he dropped out, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Its “news stories” and opinion pieces consistently reflected the paper’s distaste for Trump.

I wrote about this April 29 and May 8, expressing pity for the Journal’s political commissars, wondering how they would extricate themselves from the corner into which they’d painted themselves when Trump won.

Well, they tried in an editorial Friday, Aug. 5, headlined:

“Trump should step aside and let a statesman run”.

Read it for yourself, please, and you’ll see that the Journal’s fundamental objection to the candidate is a “temperament…ill-suited to lead America and the free world.”

His temperament? That is their problem?

Funny, but I might have expected the editorialist to note a few other limitations. Like the following culled exclusively from Republicans and other right-of-center commentators:

I am shocked that the oh-so-moralistic Albuquerque Journal didn’t find that bothersome.

  • “Trump has hired and elevated some of the very worst people in American politics, known for their cruelty, radicalism, prejudice and corruption,” wrote Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson Aug. 25. Gerson was speechwriter, senior policy adviser and member of the Iraq Study Group in George W. Bush’s White House.

Gerson’s objections didn’t make it into the Journal editorial either.

  • “Trump also would undermine democracy abroad by virtue of his disrespect for democratic norms at home. He has endorsed torture and other illegal acts of war, disparaged freedom of the press, undermined a free judiciary, campaigned by invective rather than debate and warned critics that they will suffer if he is elected. And if all that is not enough to give comfort to authoritarian rulers with similar values, Trump has expressed open admiration for the world’s worst thugs, from Russia’s Vladi­mir Putin to the butchers of Tiananmen Square.”

That’s an Aug. 28 view from Fred Hiatt, the rightist WaPo editorialist. Journal editors have published him on the Op Ed pages a half-dozen times.

George Will has been screaming at top of his voice for the GOP to resist Trump. He did that in a July 29 column headlined “How entangled with Russia is Trump?” The Journal didn’t publish it.

He did it a few days later, Aug. 3, in a column headlined “Trump’s shallowness runs deep”. The Journal didn’t publish it.

He did it again August 6 under the headline “The sinking fantasy that Trump would defend the Constitution” and no, the Journal didn’t publish it.

(Winthrop Quigley did cite Will’s opposition to Trump in an UpFront column Aug. 20.)

Meanwhile, Mr. Will discovered he’s a man of principle and announced he would quit the Republican Party because it was running Trump for president. (That was reported widely in late June.)

Of course, the Journal has never reported that. Too busy, I presume, demanding transparency from all Creation.

And then there is Jennifer Rubin, author of the right-wing “Right Turn” blog for the Washington Post in which she takes no prisoners. This tough lady has so impressed the Journal’s editors that they’ve published her on the Op Ed page about 10 times.

But two recent Rubin “Right Turn” essays (Aug. 9, 10) blamed the GOP for failing to take on Trump. Her second piece concluded:

“If Clinton now sounds like a Republican (respect for the military, defense of the rule of law, respect for religious minorities), it’s because Republicans forfeited much of the center-right ground in a fruitless effort to out-crazy Trump. If Clinton is smart, she will keep at it, creating a vast center-left to center-right coalition. She did not so much steal the GOP’s issues and thoughtful voters; rather, the GOP gave up on both. Now, it’s too late to get them back.”

This time, the editors found neither Rubin essay inspiring.

Enough. What they believe Trump is is abundantly clear.

But what is the Albuquerque Journal? What does our local daily tell us about itself when it openly politicks for candidates and causes in its so-called news pages and then, editorially, falls to its knees to ask Mr. Trump to quit because his “temperament” is ill-suited to the job even as it censors serious observations about the candidate and the GOP from rightist friends?

The answers, I suspect, may be found in various and sundry political considerations that have the Journal tied up in knots. Unfortunately, I cannot dive in without embroiling myself in the political. So let’s just say what’s patently clear – the Journal’s actions do not describe a journalistic operation.

You’re free, of course, to arrive at your own conclusions. To laugh, too, or cry.

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