Last month, the New York Times published an opinion piece by the US senator, Tom Cotton, calling for the army to be used to quell rioters during the Black Lives Matter protests. Despite this proposition being supported by 52 per cent of Americans, the paper’s staff were not happy about its publication, and many publicly said the piece’s mere existence put their lives in danger.
Shortly afterwards, an ‘Editors’ Note’ was added to the piece and James Bennett, who had defended publishing the article, resigned from his position as editorial page editor. At the slightest sign of pressure from its staff, the Times completely buckled.
Over at the Wall Street Journal, it appeared that a similar dynamic might be playing out this week, after 280 of its journalists signed a letter to their publisher, complaining about the spread of ‘misinformation’ in the paper’s opinion section. The letter argued that recent pieces in the section, including a piece by Vice President Mike Pence, were unacceptable.
It appears though that the opinion section of the paper aren’t taking the attack lying down. This morning, its editorial board published a response, and promised to continue to ‘offer an alternative to the uniform progressive views that dominate nearly all of today’s media.’
The response is worth a read in full:
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 criticising 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.
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