The Wall Street Journal and Trump: a history of hostility

WSJ columnist responds to Hannity's insults
WSJ columnist responds to Hannity's insults

The Wall Street Journal editorial board's blistering rebuke of Donald Trump on Tuesday was only the latest chapter in an antagonistic relationship between the president and a usual standard-bearer of conservative media.

Throughout Trump's campaign and into his young presidency, the Journal's editorial writers have repeatedly cast a wary eye. They have questioned his economic acumen and temperament, and even suggested at one point that the Republican Party might have to write Trump off in order to salvage its prospects in other races.

Almost exactly one year ago, the editorial board found itself ensnared in a public feud with Trump after questioning his chances of winning the general election. Trump called the writers "dummies"; the editorial board responded by saying, "The truth hurts."

In January, only two days after Trump took office, a Journal editorial ripped him for his partisan remarks at the CIA, writing that the speech made the newly inaugurated president "look small and insecure."

But the Journal editorial on Tuesday was perhaps the most scathing installment in the series.

"Two months into his Presidency, Gallup has Mr. Trump's approval rating at 39%," the editorial read. "No doubt Mr. Trump considers that fake news, but if he doesn't show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he's a fake President."

A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment and, as of this writing, Trump hasn't responded to the piece on Twitter.

If history is any guide, it might be only a matter of time before he does. Throughout his White House bid, Trump repeatedly lashed out at the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

In October of 2015, Trump took to Twitter to issue a warning to the newspaper. "They better be careful," he tweeted, "or I will unleash big time on them. Look forward to it!"

And Trump didn't limit his attacks to the Journal's editorial page, long considered a bastion of conservative principles. Following the release of a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last year showing him trailing his GOP primary rival Ted Cruz, Trump dismissed the findings as "phony" and "a Rupert Murdoch hit."

Trump and Murdoch gradually warmed up to each other during the campaign, and all seems friendly between the two these days. In January, Trump called Murdoch "a great guy who likes me much better as a very successful candidate than he ever did as a very successful developer." And NPR reported last week that Trump calls Murdoch "as often as multiple times a week."

Related: Trump tweets and the TV news stories behind them

Another Murdoch property, Fox News, has been vociferously pro-Trump, often supplying information that winds up in the president's tweets.

But the Journal's editorial writers haven't quite gotten there. Two days before the election, they wrote that the "best hope for a Trump Presidency is that he has aligned himself with enough sound policy impulses that he could liberate the U.S. economy to grow faster again." More recently, the editorial board has praised Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.

But even the most complimentary editorials are often tinged with caution and resignation. The same editorial that spoke of the board's "best hope" for the Trump presidency cautioned that it would be accompanied by "his manifest personal flaws."

Last spring, after Trump had wrapped up the GOP nomination, the Journal's editorial writers acknowledged that they saw the race differently than the party's rank-and-file.

"Mr. Trump wasn't our first choice, or even the 15th," they wrote, "but the reality is that more GOP voters preferred him to the alternatives."


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