The editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, Gerard Baker, has publicly promised that his newspaper will continue refusing to use the word “lie” when reporting on lies by Donald Trump.
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press on the first day of the new year, Baker was asked by host Chuck Todd if he would use the word “lie” to refer to Trump’s words and actions, the editor refused.
“I’d be careful about using the word, ‘lie.’ ‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead,” he said.
Baker then pointed out Trump’s lie during the presidential campaign in which he said that he saw “thousands” of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey after the 9/11 attacks, and said even though the reporting showed that what Trump claimed was completely untrue he would not be comfortable describing it as a lie.
“I think if you start ascribing a moral intent, as it were, to someone by saying that they’ve lied, I think you run the risk that you look like you are, like you’re not being objective.”
For a major newspaper editor to decide that calling out a lie by the incoming president is out of bounds is a major victory for Trump. As he takes control of the levers of power of the presidency, he can feel secure in the fact that no matter what he says, no matter how absurd or out of touch with reality it is, the Wall Street Journal (which has the same owner as Fox News Channel, Rupert Murdoch) will not call what he says a “lie.”
In 2014 the Wall Street Journal ranked second for circulation among all national newspapers, with a total daily average circulation of 2.3 million, behind USA Today and ahead of the New York Times.