Editors’ Blog

Breaking from the Journal: Kev McCarthy and Mike Johnson Say Biden’s WAY Old

When I was mulling the WaPo news last night, I noticed a link to an article in the Journal on President Biden’s purported cognitive decline. I glanced at it with a mix of emotions and in a moment I had a flash of clarity about the larger question of newspapers, Britishization and oligarchdom. I realized that in spite of myself I’ve stuck with an unmerited inertia to the idea that the Journal still maintains a high firewall between its news and editorial pages, even though I know, partly from inside accounts, how radically that changed after Murdoch purchased the Journal going on 20 years ago.

Read More 
The WaPo Blow-Up And the Ongoing Riddle of Newspaper Decline Prime Badge
 Member Newsletter

A number of you have asked me to share my thoughts on abrupt shake-up at The Washington Post in which Executive Editor Sally Buzbee was abruptly forced out by turnaround CEO Will Lewis. I don’t know enough about the situation at the Post to add more than you’re hearing from other commentary. There are a lot of things that look bad and I’m fairly confident they are bad. But I don’t know the backstory or details well enough to do more than repeat widely shared impressions. But I have a few ancillary observations.

The first is a simple pattern, not terribly surprising, but still worth absorbing. We’ve seen a series of billionaires get into the news business by purchasing for-profit news entities with what seems like the implicit promise that their vast resources will allow them to focus on journalistic excellence even if that means running losses which the new owner can cover without much difficulty. This seemed like the Bezos concept. He bought the Post when it was seriously on the ropes and when its longtime family owners (the Graham family) simply didn’t have the resources to get the paper back to profitability or to secure its place as one of the 3-to-4 national U.S. newspapers.

Read More 
Trumpers’ Crocodile Curiosity Prime Badge
 Member Newsletter

Trump supporters are trotting out any number of responses to Trump’s string of felony convictions last week. One of the most perverse and malign is the demand or “request” for jurors to come forward and explain their reasoning. Part of the idea is to suggest that the logic of the verdict is obscure or hard to justify and thus requires explanation. “Can you explain how you came to this very hard to understand verdict?” Neither is the case. The logic of the verdict is very straightforward. There may be some room for debate about how the judge interpreted the relevant law. But within those interpretations the jury verdict is elementary. The other part is to suggest something odd or suspicious in the fact that none of the jurors have yet gone public in the press.

Read More 
Plot Twist

Washington State has a law barring convicted felons from appearing on the ballot.

Helpful Data

I’ve noted a couple times already that we shouldn’t see the Republican reaction to Trump’s conviction as some spontaneous upwelling of anger but a concerted effort to keep stragglers in line and shape press reaction to the conviction. We have at least a bit of backing for that analysis from a CBS/YouGov poll. The overall findings are unsurprising and break down largely along partisan lines. But of those who feel the verdict was wrong, the predominant reaction is disappointment rather than anger. And only barely more than half of those say they’re angry about it.

Read More 
Don’t Expect Your Campaign Case to Make Itself For You

I spent most of the day under the hot sun of Jamaica Bay, close against the runways of Kennedy airport, sight fishing for Bluefish with my younger son. Most of the action was at the beginning of the day. But that was enough to make it worthwhile. The secondary result was that I haven’t caught a lot of news today. What I have caught is a flood of surprise and disgust that Democrats seem at best uncertain about whether to make Trump now being a convicted felon central to their campaign. We don’t know just how the messaging will shake out. Ideally there would be a Democratic chorus that the President himself can stay partly or mostly aloof from. In a moment like this I also cannot forget the example of 2022 in which I along with many others begged and screamed for Democrats to give the Dobbs backlash an operative, concrete focus by organizing a pledge to pass a Roe law with a filibuster exception. In the event, voters took the lead on their own after elected officials did not. (Don’t rule out the possibility that that will happen here.) And I actually see a lot of Democrats hitting him on this again and again. Indeed, the Biden campaign itself put out a statement roundly attacking him on it. But we don’t have the time to wait for things to shake out or see how they develop. The stakes are too high. If it ends up they’re just getting started on lowering the boom there won’t be any harm having also told them to lower it faster.

Read More 
A Bit of Trump Trial Campaign Advice

Donald Trump’s superpower is his impunity. He can do or say things that would end another politician’s career, marriage, freedom, and so much more. But he emerges always unscathed. It’s the root of his opponents’ revulsion and the anchor of his devotees’ devotion. That’s because Trump, as we’ve noted many times, is about power. And impunity is one of the great expressions of power. When you see Trump and his toadies turning their rage up to 11 you know they can see, if only intuitively, that the most damaging part of Trump’s conviction is the loss of the aura of impunity it represents, the damage to his brand.

He committed the crime — one we knew about and which Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to and later went to prison for all the way back in 2018. Trump was charged with the crime. He want on trial for the crime. A jury of his peers found him guilty on every count. Done and done. No levitation in defiance of the laws of gravity. No skating on the crime a mere underling did time for. Guilty. Done and done.

Very off brand. Sad!, as the man himself might say.

Read More 
Collins Needs to Retract and Apologize for her Falsehood

Sen. Susan Collins released a statement yesterday denouncing the Manhattan trial verdict and in the course of that claiming that District Attorney Alvin Bragg “campaigned on a promise to prosecute Donald Trump.” I and others have looked in vain for any evidence of this. My assumption going in was that this was false and all research supports that contention.

Read More 
What Trump Requires Prime Badge
 Member Newsletter

The Donald Trump we saw yesterday after his 34 felony convictions was angry, defiant but also visibly shaken, unsteady. His face and his hair and his comportment had that look I remember from childhood when I or other schoolboys would have the wind knocked out of them on the soccer field. We’ll see another version of him this morning in a press conference where he will no doubt expand his protestation of innocence and demand for vengeance. The spectacle is a reminder of and object lesson in what Donald Trump demands of his supporters and the country generally.

Read More 
A Few Quick Thoughts on the Verdict

My main thought on this verdict, globally, is that I don’t know what it means in a political and electoral context.

It’s a good thing that Trump faced accountability, for once in his life, for his own conduct. It is ironic on many levels that this case, by far the poor relation of the family of Trump prosecutions, is the one that actually went to trial and actually secured a conviction. It’s a disgrace that the others are unlikely to go to trial before the election. But that’s where we are.

Read More 
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: