Over this past weekend the Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, and Time Magazine all published news stories saying that Bernie Sanders was a clear winner of Saturday’s (9/14) Democratic debate. According to the WSJ, “Mr. Sanders was declared the winner by 44% of Democratic primary voters who watched the nationally televised debate, with 32% choosing Mrs. Clinton…”. According to the Time online poll, an overwhelming 81% of the 91,000 online responders picked Sanders as the winner of the debate (as of the time this blog post was published). Washington Times said Clinton lost the debate.
Yet despite all the evidence, including the news story from his own publisher, WSJ political columnist Peter Nicholas put out an editorial titled “Bernie Sanders Fails to Blunt Hillary Clinton’s Momentum“. The editorial does not cite any evidence for the odd opinion. We are left with no idea as to why Mr. Nicholas believes that Sander’s strong debate performance did not strengthen his standing in the race against Clinton.
Sander’s explanation might have been stated in the debate itself: “Let’s not be naive about it. Why, over her political career, has Wall Street been a major, the major, campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton? You know, maybe they’re dumb and they don’t know what they’re going to get, but I don’t think so. … Why do they make millions of dollars of campaign contributions? They expect to get something! Everybody knows that!”. Some would have us believe that political ties bias some news reporting to favor Clinton and, in fact, some WSJ readers voiced this concern in reaction to the Nicholas editorial. I am personally not convinced; just puzzled.
Let’s be clear: Readers really don’t care that much who won the debate. What we do care about is integrity in major news sources. I am quite concerned by the mounting indications that some news publishers can’t be counted on to weigh the facts in their reporting and op/eds.
As a reader of the WSJ, I simply want to know: what’s going on? Don’t WSJ op-ed editors read what the news desk publishes? And when the facts differ from one writer’s opinion, why isn’t there any effort to reconcile the two before throwing the mess out to readers? Certainly I don’t deny the right of the WSJ editorial staff to have a political opinion. But should I really believe that WSJ is more intent on promoting a political interest than in reporting reliable information?