Revealing: Wall St. Journal Editor Explains His Hesitation to Use the Word 'Lie' When It Comes to Trump
Much like he did with the New York Times and the Washington Post, President-elect Donald Trump targeted the Wall Street Journal on the campaign trail.
"I'm not a believer of the Wall Street Journal, I think it's a piece of garbage, it's going to lose a fortune, don't work," Trump said last February at a rally in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
"Don't worry, it'll be out of business like all the rest of them very soon," Trump asserted.
Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker is used to Trump's attacks by now, or as he calls it, "strange, tough love."
"He'd attack our reporters individually, anything we'd done, anything he didn't like, and then at the same time you also know how much he actually reads the newspaper or watches TV," Baker told MSNBC's Chuck Todd.
Yet Baker is still hesitant to call out Trump's lies. “I’d be careful using the word ‘lie’,” Baker told Todd. “Lie implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.”
Baker would prefer to investigate Trump's outlandish claims, giving the example of Trump's lie regarding "thousands" of American Muslims being seen celebrating 9/11. Otherwise, he feels the publication risks its objectivity.
“I think if you start ascribing a moral intent, as it were, to someone by saying that they’ve lied,” Baker said. “I think you run the risk that you look like you are — like you’re not being objective.”
Baker wants to trust the readers to make up their own minds while reading the Wall Street Journal and its writers' social media posts.
"If our readers see that you're saying scathing things about Donald Trump on Twitter or they see you on TV saying things in a commentary way that appear to be very critical and hostile to Donald Trump, they're not going to trust you."
"I was very concerned that we be seen to be fair... to all candidates," Baker concluded.
"Imagine a Sane Donald Trump," read one Wall Street Journal headline two weeks before the election, followed by the question: "You know he’s a nut. What if he weren’t?"
PolitiFact rates 69% of Trump’s public statements as mostly false and just 4% as true.