Andrew McCarthy performs a virtually comprehensive autopsy on the Wall Street Journal’s misguided editorial on the resignation of Eason Jordan: “It’s no ‘kerfuffle.'” McCarthy pays his respects to the Journal editorial page while he dissects the editorial’s departure from the page’s “gold standard.” I concur in McCarthy’s regard for the Journal editorial page, but I’m not sure it’s necessary to gild criticism of the editorial with all the tributes to past glories.
McCarthy misses one small point that is worthy of note. McCarthy does not note the editorial’s incoherence. On the one hand, the editorial opens by congratulating the Journal for Bret Stephens’s reporting on Eason Jordan’s comments via the Journal’s online, subscribers only Political Diary. Here are the first two paragraphs of the editorial:
The writers of these columns believe that, in addition to having opinions, we are ultimately in the same information business as the rest of the press corps. Which is why we try to break news whenever we can if a story merits the attention.
So it was only normal for our Bret Stephens to report a January 27 panel discussion he attended at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, during which CNN’s Eason Jordan appeared to say–before he tried to unsay it–that U.S. troops had deliberately targeted journalists in Iraq. Mr. Stephens’s story appeared the next day in our Political Diary, an e-mail newsletter for subscribers that is part of this Web site. It is the first account by any news organization of what has come to be known as Easongate.
On the other hand, the Journal itself did not report the comments in its hard copy or online editions. Chumps like me who only pay $215 for our subscriptions to the paper had to learn of the Jordan story from radio talk show host and blogger Hugh Hewitt or our Northern Alliance colleague Captain Ed.
In its closing sentences, the Journal’s editorial chides CNN for supposedly caving in to blogospheric pressure (an obvious canard). By contrast, the editorial congratulates the Journal for exercising adult judgment and ignoring the Jordan story:
But [CNN] has other obligations, too, chief among them to show the good judgment and sense of proportion that distinguishes professional journalism from the enthusiasms and vendettas of amateurs.
No doubt this point of view will get us described as part of the “mainstream media.” But we’ll take that as a compliment since we’ve long believed that these columns do in fact represent the American mainstream. We hope readers buy our newspaper because we make grown-up decisions about what is newsworthy, and what isn’t.
Now I’m wondering, which Journal publication exercises adult responsibility: the Journal’s online Political Diary or the Wall Street Journal? At one or the other, according to the Journal, I guess the kids are in charge, as they are out here in the blogosphere.