The Wall Street Journal Supports Bigotry

August 11, 2010 by Thad McIlroy

from thad@thefutureofpublishing.com <thad@thefutureofpublishing.com>
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date Wed, Aug 11, 2010 at 2:48 PM
subject Cancel subscription immediately

To Editors and Managements of The Wall Street Journal,

I have valued your paper for decades, and faithfully subscribed online for perhaps ten years. It was always expensive but I did not question the value.

With considerable regret I wish immediately to cancel my subscription to the Wall Street Journal and to be refunded any unused portion of the money I’ve given you for my current subscription. I was wrong to assume that what I was offered in the past would be a reliable indicator of your product today.

On the one hand you still offer superb reporting, such as the recent series on Internet e-commerce and privacy led by Julia Angwin. Regardless of one’s perspective on the issue, as I wrote when it was published, the series is a model of thorough investigation, excellent reporting, and optimal use of the online medium. With that series you have opened the eyes of many about a very important issue, and changed the nature of the debate. I commend the publishers of the Journal for supporting Ms. Angwin and her team. One is proud of the press at such moments.

Meanwhile you run a regular series of columns by Karl Rove. I nearly jumped from the subscriber ship then, but at least no one mistakes him for anyone but who he is. It’s regrettable to provide a platform for that mean-spirited fellow, but, I tried to remind myself, voices like his should also be heard. That his hiring coincided with a change of ownership at the Journal was a red flag. I now understand the flag’s meaning.

Yesterday’s piece by William McGurn tossed out the journalistic line between church and state. I now see that your new owner has purchased a respectable platform to broadcast his misanthropic diatribes. A top executive of the company that owns a once-fine newspaper is using it to make hatred more palatable.

I was drawn to the headline: “Are Americans Bigots?” Seeing it posed as a question I hoped to read an intelligent two-sided examination of the topic. What confronted me instead was weak rhetorical nonsense.

As a dual Canadian/American citizen, who lived for 15 adult years in the U.S., I know that Americans are not bigots. And so the recent bigotry displayed by my fellow citizens has surprised and disappointed me. As they are not bigots, I’ve been pondering what impact politicians and the media have had in inciting them to uncharacteristic expressions of hatred. Just before I stumbled on this piece I read Lexington’s commentary on the New York mosque in this week’s Economist. Compare it to Mr. McGurn’s commentary if you will. I can only imagine you blushing.

I thought to myself, who is writing this stuff; have I stumbled onto a Karl Rove column in disguise? Couldn’t be: it was insufficiently venal. That is when I discovered that he is “a Vice President at News Corporation who writes speeches for CEO Rupert Murdoch. Previously he served as Chief Speechwriter for President George W. Bush.” Oh, I see.

Does Mr. McGurn truly think “moving the (Muslim-backed) center a few blocks” will silence these polarized and angry voices? Surely not, when a well-respected, large circulation daily implies that their hate-filled utterances have legitimacy because they emerge from the mouths of decent “American people.”

Hatred spreads faster than good will: it is currently the most-commented article on your site.

You have put me in a position where my tacit support as a subscriber makes me feel culpable. While I acknowledge your right to publish what you see fit, I have the right to withdraw my support.

Respectfully,

Thad McIlroy
The Future of Publishing
thad@thefutureofpublishing.com
www.TheFutureofPublishing.com

UPDATE: September 12, 2010

A major story appeared over the weekend in the U.K. regarding WSJ owner Rupert Murdoch. The full story is available on The Guardian, perhaps the most respected U.K. daily.

The WSJ as of 9/12/2010 has only this to report on the inquiry:

British legislators authorized a sweeping inquiry into illicit snooping on politicians and celebrities by tabloids, as one lawmaker called for media tycoon Rupert Murdoch to testify over allegations one of his newspapers illegally hacked into cell phones.

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Comments

  • WSJ Online Support

    Aug 11th, 2010 : 2:55 PM

    RECEIVED via email (not as a comment):

    from WSJ Online Support
    to thad@thefutureofpublishing.com
    date Wed, Aug 11, 2010 at 3:12 PM
    subject Response regarding your request to cancel Email ID: <>

    3:12 PM (40 minutes ago)

    Customer ID: xxxxxx

    Dear Thad McIlroy,

    Thank you for contacting The Wall Street Journal Online. We are sorry to hear that you want to cancel your WSJ.com account. As requested, we have cancelled your account and credited your card for the unused portion of your subscription.

    We hope you will reconsider your decision. Consider how much you’ll miss – breaking world and financial news at your fingertips 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    We value your patronage, and look forward to hearing from you when you are ready to subscribe again.

    Best regards,

    Customer Service
    The Wall Street Journal.Digital Network

  • d.bernard@wsj.com

    Aug 12th, 2010 : 8:23 AM

    RECEIVED via email (not as a comment):

    d.bernard@wsj.com
    to “thad@thefutureofpublishing.com”
    date Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 7:11 AM
    subject Re: Cancel subscription immediately (KMM24067482I72L0KM)

    hide details 7:11 AM (2 hours ago)

    Dear Thad McIlroy,

    Thank you for contacting Daniel Bernard of The Wall Street Journal Online. Mr. Bernard has requested that the WSJ.com Customer Service dept. acknowledge receipt of your email.

    While we regret to hear about your decision to cancel your subscription to The Wall Street Journal we do respect your choice to do so.

    Our records indicate your subscription was cancelled yesterday, 8/11/2010, and a pro-rated refund of $121.77 was issued to your Visa credit card (XXXXXXXX4769).

    If you require any further assistance please contact our customer service department at 800 369 2834.

    Best Regards,
    Wall Street Journal Online Customer Support
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  • Thad McIlroy

    Aug 17th, 2010 : 1:36 PM

    Point well-taken: “Complain About ‘The Wall St. Journal’s Politics All You Want, But You Gotta Love This Customer Service”

    http://www.editorandpublisher.com/FitzBlog/post/2010/08/16/Complain-About-The-Wall-St-Journals-Politics-All-You-Want-But-You-Gotta-Love-This-Customer-Service.aspx

  • Carol

    Aug 25th, 2010 : 9:41 AM

    Interesting letter Thad. Although I didn’t read the WSJ piece, you may find the article below of some interest.

    https://www.tanenbaum.org/blog/08/10/cordoba-house-bowing-bigotry-can-never-be-right

  • Thad McIlroy

    Aug 26th, 2010 : 1:12 AM

    Thanks for the comment, Carol. A pleasure to read on the Tanenbaum site: “Tanenbaum does not promote a particular religious agenda. We simply advocate the view that all people, from the most devout religious observer to the most fervent atheist, deserve to be treated with respect. Because we remain religiously neutral, we more effectively work with people across the religious spectrum.”

    I’ve been trying very hard to better understand the viewpoint of the opponents of the Cordoba center. I can understand the emotional basis for their argument. But I continue to feel that it is morally reprehensible. (Glenn Greenwald on Salon.com provides excellent coverage of the topic: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/08/17/courage/index.html)

    Still, my major complaint with the Wall Street Journal is that it is failing in its responsibilities as a major newspaper when it becomes primarily a mouthpiece for the political views of its owner. I saw earlier tonight that Mark Anderson spotted this problem in the Journal last September (http://www.tapsns.com/blog/index.php/2009/09/wsj-down-nyt-up-ft-wins/). Mark points to a larger problem for the future of publishing in the United States: each of the major urban newspapers is fast losing credibility with serious readers. Canadian newspapers are following suit. Sad days for those of us who used to count on these media outlets for guidance.