Inside the Wall Street Journal: The History and the Power of Dow Jones & Company and America's Most Influential Newspaper

By Jerry M. Rosenberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 18
Speaking on the Presidency

We have a long-standing tradition of avoiding formal endorsement of political candidates.

ROBERT BARTLEY, editor

IN 1972 BOB BARTLEY, then associate editor of the Journal, said of his paper's refusal to formally endorse candidates:

Every four years we write an editorial trying to explain why. The short answer is that we don't think our business is trying to tell people how to vote. We think our business is trying to add something to the public discusion of issues. Someone following what we say on the issues ought to have a good idea of precisely where we stand, whether that is pro, con, neutral or confused. We think that ultimately that serves a far more useful purpose than does the exercise of pigeonholing ourselves in one political camp or another.

The editors may not come out directly in favor of one candidate or officeholder, but there is ample evidence that they are seldom neutral. In years past they were quick to take note of blunders, bad judgment, and incompetence on the part of such leaders as Roosevelt--both Theodore and Franklin--Harry Truman, Adlai Stevenson, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson. High praise, with an occasional round of criticism, was meted out to Dwight Eisenhower and, during his first term in office, Richard Nixon.

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