The Fifth Column

Bari Weiss: 'It Was Heartbreaking for Me' to See the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page Go Soft on Trump

Former WSJ'er, current NYT'er, and inspiration for a hilarious Saturday Night Live skit this weekend talks about her contrarian media life (and much else besides) on The Fifth Column.


Did you see the Saturday Night Live skit this weekend about good New York liberal yuppies tiptoeing on eggshells about a NYT op-ed on Aziz Ansari and the #MeToo movement? Take a look:

The piece in question was written by Bari Weiss, a staff editor and writer over at the Times' opinion section (Robby Soave discussed her piece here). Luckily this bit of immortalization happened two days after the latest recording of The Fifth Column, the podcast featuring Kmele Foster, Michael C. Moynihan, and myself, so we were able to spend nearly two steadily inebriating hours talking with Weiss about #MeToo, government shutdowns, immigration deals, anti-Mueller conspiracies, why Kmele still doesn't think Donald Trump is a racist, and so forth.

But one of the biggest eye-openers was her discussion about her previous employer, the Wall Street Journal. After never experiencing much resistance to placing political op-eds on the editorial page, Weiss said, "all of a sudden I was being told that I didn't, you know, have the standing to write about these things, or that they were too anti-Trump." This happened on "several" occasions, she said, with the atmosphere contributing to the exodus not just of her but of a number of prominent #NeverTrump types. "It was heartbreaking for me to see people who I thought that we sort of shared fundamental values making peace with a candidate who, I mean, just from the most basic perspective ran a campaign on denigrating and demonizing the weakest people in our culture," Weiss said.

Listen to the whole thing here, and sorry about the spotty audio:

Over at Esquire last month, Sam Tanenhaus wrote more about the WSJ ed-page controversies:

Much has been written about friction between the Journal's down-the-middle, just-the-facts news reporters and its highly ideological editorial department. But the more significant story—an obsession for the Never Trumpers—is the rupture within the Journal's editorial pages and the exodus that resulted.

Bret Stephens, who won a Pulitzer in 2013, was the defector with the highest profile. He was deputy editor when he jumped over to the Times, where he was soon joined by his editor at the Journal, Bari Weiss. The Journal's books editor, Robert Messenger, is now at The Weekly Standard. Sohrab Ahmari, a foreign-policy writer, went to Commentary. Mark Lasswell, an editor, was told not to return from a book leave.

Those were heavy losses in pages whose content is managed by fewer than thirty people in total. And the reason, according to several defectors, was the Journal's skidding reversal once Rupert Murdoch realized Trump could win. Several sources pointed to the editorials by one writer, James Freeman. "All-in for Ted Cruz" during the primaries, Freeman wrote a strong attack on Trump's Mob dealings, and had a second ready to go. But as Trump got closer to clinching the nomination, Paul Gigot kept delaying publication, saying "it needed work." Once Trump became the likely Republican nominee, Freeman executed a neat volte-face. "The facts suggest that Mrs. Clinton is more likely to abuse liberties than Mr. Trump," he wrote. "America managed to survive Mr. Clinton's two terms, so it can stand the far less vulgar Mr. Trump."

Since then, the Journal has gone further. Even jaded readers were startled to see the editorial-page call for Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia investigation, to resign.

Whole thing here.

NEXT: Trump's 'America First' Plan Is Naked Special-Interest Policymaking

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  1. “denigrating and demonizing the weakest people in our culture”

    That’s the most paternalistic bullshit ever, and utter bullshit considering the standard rhetoric on both sides fo years,, and why I hate most of the Resistance as much as I hate Trump.

    1. Guess who said this recently:

      “Today, we focus our attention on the love and protection each person, born and unborn, deserves regardless of disability, gender, appearance, or ethnicity. Much of the greatest suffering in our Nation’s history ? and, indeed, our planet’s history ? has been the result of disgracefully misguided attempts to dehumanize whole classes of people based on these immutable characteristics. We cannot let this shameful history repeat itself in new forms, and we must be particularly vigilant to safeguard the most vulnerable lives among us. This is why we observe National Sanctity of Human Life Day: to affirm the truth that all life is sacred, that every person has inherent dignity and worth, and that no class of people should ever be discarded as ‘non-human.'”

      1. The Dotard just started pandering to the Aborto-Freaks when he became a Republican.

        He is lying, you know. He doesn’t believe a word of it.

        1. He doesn’t understand 80% of the words of it.

          1. And you had trouble with the remaining 20% also, didn’t you?

        2. So, kinda like how Obama and Hillary learned to pretend they no longer hate the queers and Taco Bowlers.

          1. The left really don’t like having their words thrown back in their face.

            1. Oh crap this is a dead thread. Sigh, moving along.

  2. Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to cry about Trump again.

    America is crying tonight

    Everyone is crying

    It’s the end of the world

    Get your abortions now

    It’s a different earth now

    President Obama said she’s the best qualified candidate ever

    It’s a white lash

    It’s the end of the world as we know it

    Peoples are coming up to me and they need a hug

    Is there a doomsday plan?

    Well…is there ???

    He’s a total nazi !!!

  3. “It was heartbreaking for me to see people who I thought that we sort of shared fundamental values making peace with a candidate who, I mean, just from the most basic perspective ran a campaign on denigrating and demonizing the weakest people in our culture,” Weiss said.”

    That’s one way to look at it, but it’s still wrapped up in, “What could be more disappointing than a business that caters to the tastes of its paying customers?”

    The WSJ had a paywall up before pretty much any other online publication. They were able to charge for access back when everyone else had to give it away for free–because people expected to get something different and better from them.

    In the meantime, I’ve seen plenty of WSJ columnists take Trump to task, e.g. Peggy Noonan, and the editorial board will do it themselves.

    Meanwhile, you don’t justify the suggestion that the editors at the WSJ aren’t being fair by dialing you back a bit by making statements like, “I mean, just from the most basic perspective ran a campaign on denigrating and demonizing the weakest people in our culture”. Is that what she wanted to put in her opinion piece? Aren’t there already a hundred publications covering that angle?

    Why would WSJ subscribers want to pay to read that when they can read it in a hundred other places for free?

    1. P.S. I’ve seen plenty of illegal immigrants in southern California.

      I’ve seen plenty of poor people in Appalachia.

      I suspect the reason illegal immigrants don’t go to Appalachia and go to California instead is because the people of Appalachia are some of the weakest people in our culture society. And, yet, if there’s any group of people anywhere in our culture that’s still safe to denigrate and demonize in polite society, could it be anybody other than the people of Appalachia?

      1. Sometimes I wish Reason had upvotes.

      2. Amen, brother.

      3. You’re all a basket of deplorables. Each and every one.

  4. As much as I despise the Dotard I have to admit his opening salvo on DACA seems reasonable. He triples DACA eligibility and cuts back chain migration to immediate family members. The idiot Dems should take that before he blows a gasket again.

    1. Not that it matters, but I have to agree to the extent I understand all this.

      The Dems are being foolish. Trump is being fairly reasonable.

      The $25 billion though for the wall is a bit of joke. They’ll use the money for other stuff. Poof.

      Government waste in the West 101.

      1. Trump has proven to be far better than I’d hoped, but fails badly in regard to two specific issues:
        1) That damn wall. Go to China and ask how it worked for them. Almost as stupid as moonbeam’s choo-choo, but a bit cheaper.
        2) Tariffs. I think there’s an econ thesis yet to be written on how the 1930s depression was a result of the snow-balled reduction in international trade as the various nations instituted tariffs to ‘protect their workers!’
        The second may turn out to be far more damaging and expensive in the long run.

        1. Yeh, to both points; especially the second.

          As to the first, just the enormous resources to maintain the wall I can just imagine.It’s so big in scope I have no idea how it could properly function with efficiency.

      2. Honestly, Trump is playing them..well calling their bluff..

        From M.Showalter

        “It makes sense because studies show that most Dreamers are underachievers, many of whom are just high school graduates, heavy welfare users, have petty crime backgrounds, and do not speak English. It’s almost a given that most won’t make it to the twelve-year finish line without getting into a bar fight, getting caught graffiti-spraying, or be picked up for drunk driving. The only ones who make it will be those with a work ethic and family values. Those actually are the ones who could become Republicans in the long run. Trump knows this. Democrats don’t. They believe their own propaganda about all DREAMers being valedictorians.”

  5. “America managed to survive Mr. Clinton’s two terms, so it can stand the far less vulgar Mr. Trump.”

    Insane comment – or just TEAM RED! bullshit.

    1. So swearing is much more vulgar than sexual misconduct? Or is that only when the Right does it?

  6. When was it decided that the _feelings_ of tiny self-alienated subcultures must be The Most Important Thing in the World? I didn’t agree to that. Did you agree to it? Do these people we’re all supposed to be so solicitous and protective of care about _our_ feelings? It doesn’t seem like they do.

    1. I think the better question is why you’re going along with something you didn’t agree to.

  7. Esquire:

    David Frum, a former hardcore conservative

    Frum was never a “hardcore conservative” even by late-20th century Canadian standards

    1. Frum was at best a soft liberal.

      1. It’s not really fair to label Frum a soft liberal–he was always a conservative of the type that never quite knew how to be anything more than milquetoast opposition when the Dems were in charge.

        1. Frum’s a communitarian warmonger which puts him squarely in the center/center-left tradition of American politics. The center-right moved his way during the dark days of the W administration.

      2. Frum is utterly devoid of any principles whatsoever. He will pretend to believe whatever he thinks will get him some attention at the moment.


  8. Yikes

    The Next Money-Fund Bailout
    Republicans want to tee up mutual funds for taxpayer guarantees.

    The bill would let institutional prime and tax-exempt money-market mutual funds once again hide behind a $1 NAV, or net-asset value. Funds would be allowed to report a $1 NAV even if the market value of the underlying securities fell below it. This is the opposite of truth-in-advertising for investors.

    1. I guess it’s not surprising that your link leads to nothing of the sort.
      You’ll forgive me assuming, based on your constant habits, that you are lying.
      I’ll change my guess if I find otherwise.

  9. A countering view to “Democrat-strategist Matt Welch”

    from a former LP VP candidate

    1. LOL.

      All hell is breaking loose in D.C. The next few weeks will be the most shocking in America’s history. The revelations about to be made public will shake this nation to its core …

      … It’s all coming down upon this cabal of criminals like a ton of boulders. Hillary, Obama, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, John Podesta, Ben Rhodes, Susan Rice, Huma Abedin and leaders of the FBI and DOJ ? they’re all looking at possible prison terms as this massive, brazen scandal and conspiracy unravels …

      … This is a political earthquake. Before this is over, the Democrat Party will be in shambles. The legacies of Hillary and Obama will be in ashes. The FBI may never recover.

      I think somebody is nervous about what Mueller will reveal about #TrumpRussia. Rather than admit Drumpf is Putin’s puppet, the author invented a phony conspiracy that will take down Democrats. Sorry, the truth is the American people are discovering how compromised the Republican Party is, and will surely elect a Democrat in 2020.

      1. “I think somebody is nervous about what Mueller will reveal about #TrumpRussia. Rather than admit Drumpf is Putin’s puppet,”

        Yep, more than a year, two investigators. They’ve got a guy who laundered money long before he worked for Trump and two guys who pulled a “Clapper” and got busted for it (unlike Clapper, who got away clean).
        And, BTW, there still isn’t a single specific illegal activity mentioned by anyone. We got Tony, the idiot who knows not what it means, whining about “treason”, all the rest is nebulous arm-waving about the Russkies making hilariously amateur web ads and Trump canoodling that the Russkies!
        BTW, the “Drumph” is really….

        1. Is typing “Drumpf” more or less infantile than playground insults like “you stink”?

          1. “Is typing “Drumpf” more or less infantile than playground insults like “you stink”?”

            Yes. Yes it is, commie kid.

            1. ‘Scuse me. I wasn’t clear.
              Making up ‘funny names’ is far more infantile than pointing out that your stink precedes you in all your posts.

      2. So wait – Trump sorry Drumpf is in Putin’s pocket because:

        * He paid for a dossier that was filled with misinformation?
        * He had an illegal email server with sensitive information in his bathroom closet/
        * He shared a house with a pedophile and put emails on his computer. That’s really Dangerous to do
        * Drumpf along with Putin rigged the Democratic nomination!
        * FBI and DOJ dismissed charges for specific people (that you and I would be someone’s wife in prison by now)

        I know the list goes on right!

    2. The thing is man, even if all of that is true and non-partisan, I do not trust any of this anymore. People have been screaming the sky is falling and lying about information my entire life, whether it is peak oil or Clinton raping everyone in sight in the 90s or Obama with his nationality issues or Benghazi or the gun stuff with Fast and Furious or this bogus stuff about Russia collusion, information has been weaponized in such a ridiculous manner I do not believe anything unless I can see it myself.

      About the only thing I am unhappy with is Hillary and her email shenanigans and misuse of classified information, she probably should have been prosecuted for that. But I also understand what happened there and could see the information. The rest has been a lot of crying wolf. I will not believe it anymore which is a shame, we will not trust a true conspiracy or scandal in the future anymore because the water has been muddied so badly.

    3. There will be no clear victories, for either side. We will continue to muddle along in a fog, with each polarized side granted just enough carefully sculpted clarity to continue their outrage at the other.

  10. I just poured myself a Berry Weiss from Tallgrass Brewing. It was equally sour and predictable as this Bari Weiss.

    1. isn’t that Leinenkugel’s?

      1. I like their honey weisse . My fab of theirs is the creamy dark lager.

  11. DoJ withholding 85%+ of Strzok-Page texts

    Also the DoJ won’t say how many texts they’ve recovered of the 50,000 the FBI “lost”.

    1. “____ _____ Trump ____ _____ ________ and I’d like to ____ your _____ _______ _________ ________ _________ _____ and then _______ _____ ____________ mayonnaise _____ _______ _______ whips _ ________ _ _________ ___________ ______ so hot ___ _______ _______”

  12. I too am deeply disturbed by the lack of media criticism of Trump. It’s like everyone in the media is frightened to say anything negative about him. If the WSJ won’t fill it’s pages with hit pieces on Trump then who will? It’s like living in communist Russia with all of the pro-Trump propaganda. Will no one resist?

    1. “Will no one resist?”
      I find it offensive that all the legacy news outlets are in Teump’s pocket.
      Why else would the post stories regarding the tightness of his wrist-watch band and his habit of eating fried chicken with a knife and fork if it weren’t to make his opponents look like nit-picking idiots?

  13. We’re they even trying to make that SNL skit funny?

  14. Also, Bari was a good guest. Have her back on with a functioning mic sometime.

    1. Or with no mic, I’d be down with that.

  15. I used to have a lot of respect for the WSJ. That was before Rupert Murdoch took it over.

  16. I mean, just from the most basic perspective ran a campaign on denigrating and demonizing the weakest people in our culture

    I’m sorry, which people in our culture are these?

    I mean, I get the problem she has. If she talked about “in our country”, it would implicitly grant that there’s a country that is collectively ours, and that their presence in it is accordingly for us to decide. If she talked about “in America”, she’d be highlighting that the whole debate is if they should be in America. And if she didn’t somehow try to limit her empathy to people who are already in the US, she’d have to explain why we should favor people from relatively-prosperous Mexico (77th in HDI, “high”) rather than expelling them to make room for Liberians (177th in HDI, “low”).

    But, seriously, “our culture”? So she’d be perfectly fine if with it Trump was careful to only denigrate and demonize immigrants who clearly aren’t part of our culture, because (say) they aren’t proficient enough in English to participate in that culture?

    A fairly good guideline? if you can’t make an argument without lying, don’t make that argument.

    1. It’s a telling remark because it indicates that she doesn’t believe the US is actually a country, but like a lot of leftists, has no problem living under the very Constitution that she and her kind denigrate.

  17. OK, who gave the obligatory “Trump is a Poopyhead!” speech at the Grammys?

  18. It’s funny that Bari Weiss complains about Trump’s fascism when she is equally fascist about Israel and probably a bunch of staffers at the NYT will soon jump ship for the same reasons she left WSJ.

  19. “… a hilarious Saturday night live skit…”

    that sounds like the Fakest News of all! The last one of those sighted in the wild was at least twenty years ago, and it had david spade and al franken in it. So that wasnt exactly great either.

  20. SNL hasn’t been funny in decades. But I guess I’m preaching to the choir.

    1. And get off your lawn!

      Oh wait, you’re a libertarian. “Shoots children on your lawn in the face until they’re dead.*

      1. We aren’t the ones with murderous fantasies Tony.

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