WSJ editorial board calls employee concerns about opinion page ‘cancel culture’
The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal responded to concerns expressed by new staff about columns published on the paper’s opinion pages.
This week over 280 journalists, editors and other employees at the Journal wrote a letter to their publisher expressing concern over misinformation published in the opinion section. In a response published Thursday, the board dismissed those concerns as “cancel culture.”
“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,” the board wrote. “But we are not the New York Times.”
The New York Times, which had concerns raised over an op-ed written by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R), saw its opinion editor resign after employees worried that Cotton’s call to bring law federal law enforcement in to quell protests would put people in danger. They also worried that his column lacked adequate fact-checking, so much so that it contradicted reporting from the publication’s own journalists.
Reporters at the Journal brought up similar concerns over fact-checking. They cited several examples, including a column by Vice President Pence in which he said fears of a second wave of coronavirus cases were “overblown” and argued that the administration’s handling of the pandemic has been a success. They said editors failed to adequately fact-check the piece, which was later corrected.
Another instance was a column titled “The Myth of Systemic Police Racism,” which employees said “selectively presented facts and drew an erroneous conclusion from the underlying data.” In their letter, the journalists said if the “company is serious about better supporting its employees of color, at a bare minimum it should raise Opinion’s standards so that misinformation about racism isn’t published.”
In their four-paragraph response, the editorial board did not address issues regarding fact-checking, or any other specific grievances detailed in the letter. They said that the opinion page offers 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,” the board wrote. “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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