I'm not sure what you call the opposite of a valentine, but Atlantic senior editor David Frum sent one to the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Has the once vaunted WSJ news division broken even 1 major story about the Trump administration? https://t.co/ZXzUaWNprA
— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 14, 2017
This love story has a happy ending, however. The Journal won back Frum with a front-page story in Thursday's paper (online Wednesday night) about U.S. intelligence officials withholding some information from President Trump.
Within 24 hours of my making a grouchy comment about WSJ’s Trump coverage, they set me straight w an important scoop https://t.co/yR0cpEglIU
— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 16, 2017
Perhaps Frum's Valentine's Day complaint was a bit harsh. After all, Trump has been in office for less than a month. But journalists in and out of the Journal newsroom have been wondering for a while whether the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper will be sufficiently rigorous in holding the new Republican administration accountable.
Two weeks ago, Journal editor in chief Gerard Baker instructed top editors to stop identifying the seven countries subject to Trump's travel ban as “majority-Muslim” nations, even though candidate Trump called for a blanket moratorium on Muslims entering the United States and Trump adviser Rudolph W. Giuliani explained on Fox News that the ban, as enacted, was designed to approximate the original vision in a legal manner. Baker quickly reversed course, after being criticized by fellow journalists.
The Atlantic reported last week that the Journal's op-ed page editor, Mark Lasswell, “has left the paper following tensions over the section drifting in a pro-Donald Trump direction.” The Journal's editorial page editor, Paul Gigot, disputed that account of Lasswell's departure.
On Monday, Baker addressed the paper's Trump coverage in a staff meeting. According to a report by NPR, some of the Journal's own reporters and editors felt that the newspaper was too soft on Trump.
Perceptions of the Journal are, of course, tied to the work of its competitors. National security adviser Michael Flynn resigned Monday in the wake of a Washington Post report that he discussed sanctions on Russia with that country's ambassador to the United States before Trump took office, contrary to what the White House had claimed publicly.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that some Trump aides and associates communicated regularly with Russian intelligence officials during the campaign.
It was time for the Journal to get a piece of the Trump-Russia story, and it did on Thursday. Here's the top:
U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter.
The officials' decision to keep information from Mr. Trump underscores the deep mistrust that has developed between the intelligence community and the president over his team's contacts with the Russian government, as well as the enmity he has shown toward U.S. spy agencies. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump accused the agencies of leaking information to undermine him.
In some of these cases of withheld information, officials have decided not to show Mr. Trump the sources and methods that the intelligence agencies use to collect information, the current and former officials said. Those sources and methods could include, for instance, the means that an agency uses to spy on a foreign government.
One report probably won't end all questions, but it could begin to beat back criticism of the Journal's Trump coverage.