By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. | The Wall Street Journal
Thank you, Dean Baquet. Readers who complain about articles they don’t like, and who assume they are written under pressure from advertisers, could do worse than to study recent comments of the New York Times executive editor.
Mr. Baquet was secretly recorded at a staff meeting. A transcript was posted at Slate.com. But he has made similar points publicly. The gist: It’s readers nowadays who pressure newspapers to toe a line. Publishers pine for the era when advertising dollars insulated us from such pressures.
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Under fire from its public for an anodyne and accurate headline about Donald Trump after the El Paso shootings, which the paper later changed, Mr. Baquet almost pleaded with his crew: “We are an independent news organization, one of the few remaining. . . . Our readers and some of our staff cheer us when we take on Donald Trump, but they jeer at us when we take on Joe Biden. They sometimes want us to pretend that he was not elected president, but he was elected president.”
If he meant a newspaper’s job is to report the facts and arrange them in a logical fashion regardless of the howling winds of reader prejudice, he’s right. Unfortunately it’s not clear this is what he meant.
Holman W. Jenkins Jr. is a member of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal. He writes the twice-weekly “Business World” column that appears on the paper’s op-ed page on Wednesdays and Saturdays.