Staff and management of the Murdoch clan’s Wall Street Journal are due to face off in a so-called “town hall”-style meeting in New York over growing concerns among journalists and editors that the paper is running dead (or soft) on Donald Trump and his administration.
And the concerns are serious — not just held by a few staff. Already Rebecca Blumenstein, the paper’s deputy editor-in-chief (after incumbent Gerard Baker), has quit to go to the rival New York Times. And on Friday The Atlantic reported that Mark Lasswell, the Journal’s editorial features editor, had left the paper following tensions over the section drifting in a pro-Donald Trump direction.
His departure comes as internal tensions over Trump have begun to spill into public view. Politico reported last week:
“All in all, there’s palpable concern among the rank and file that Baker, a former columnist, has placed unreasonable restrictions on the Journal’s Trump coverage.”
In a memo to staff last Wednesday, Baker called the town hall meeting to discuss its coverage, writing: “”I’m eager to talk with all of you about the challenges and opportunities for our journalism.”
Staff would not have been heartened by two reports in the Financial Times last week pointing out just how close Rupert Murdoch, the News Corp co-chair (with son Lachlan) was to Trump and his family. The FT said that up to late last December Ivanka Trump had been a trustee for Wendy Deng’s (Rupert Murdoch’s former wife) two daughters on a trust holding shares in News Corp and 21st Century Fox, the clan’s two major companies. The FT then reported a day later that Rupert Murdoch (unannounced) had sat in on an interview with Trump conducted by The Times of London (a News Corp paper) and German daily Bild. The Times reporter conducting the interview was Michael Gove, a Murdoch favourite who is paid a reported 150,000 pounds a year by The Times to write columns, while being a Conservative MP in the UK (and a failed candidate for prime minister after David Cameron resigned). — Glenn Dyer