Wall Street Journal Opinion Editor Defends Item on Dr. Jill Biden

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As at other newspapers, including The Times and The Washington Post, The Journal’s news sections and opinion pages are administered separately, each overseen by a top editor who reports to the newspaper’s publisher.

At least three times this year, members of The Journal’s newsroom have sent letters criticizing Journal columns.

In July, nearly 300 news employees sent a letter to The Journal’s publisher, Almar Latour, identifying a “lack of fact-checking and transparency” on the opinion desk. The letter referred to several op-ed pieces, including Vice President Mike Pence’s June 16 essay that was headlined “There Isn’t a Coronavirus ‘Second Wave.’” In response, The Journal published an unsigned editorial bemoaning the “progressive cancel culture” it said the letter typified.

In June, the board of the union that represents Journal staff members sent a letter to Mr. Latour and Matt Murray — The Journal’s editor in chief, overseeing the news section — asking that Gerard A. Baker, the previous editor in chief and now an editor at large, be reassigned to the opinion section, and criticized an op-ed article of his as well as several of his Twitter posts. He was reassigned the day after the letter was sent, though a Journal spokeswoman said that move had been in the works.

In February, the headline of an article by the columnist Walter Russell Mead criticizing China’s response to the coronavirus prompted more than 50 news employees, many based in China, to sign a letter to the Dow Jones chief executive and the chief executive of Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp. asking for a retraction. The headline, which referred to China as the “Real Sick Man of Asia,” was “derogatory,” the letter said. The headline was not retracted, and the Chinese government soon expelled three Journal reporters in what it said was retaliation.

In Sunday’s response, Mr. Gigot pledged not to be fazed by the reaction to the op-ed article. “If you disagree with Mr. Epstein, fair enough. Write a letter or shout your objections on Twitter,” he wrote. “But these pages aren’t going to stop publishing provocative essays merely because they offend the new administration or the political censors in the media and academe.”

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