Wall Street Journal Editorial Rejects ‘Cancel-Culture Pressure’ After Staff Letter Criticizing Opinion Section

Over 280 staffers signed a letter earlier this week criticizing the practices of the paper’s opinion section

The Wall Street Journal editorial board on Thursday night vowed not to “wilt under cancel-culture pressure” in response to a letter earlier this week from 280-plus staffers of the paper and parent company Dow Jones that criticized the opinion section and called for better labeling of opinion pieces and stronger fact-checking of op-eds.

“It was probably inevitable that the wave of progressive cancel culture would arrive at the Journal, as it has at nearly every other cultural, business, academic and journalistic institution. But we are not the New York Times,” the editorial board wrote, alluding to recent events at the Times, like the resignation of editorial page editor James Bennet after widespread criticism of an op-ed by Republican Sen. Tom Cotton. “Most Journal reporters attempt to cover the news fairly and down the middle, and our opinion pages offer an alternative to the uniform progressive views that dominate nearly all of today’s media.”

The new editorial sidestepped the specific criticisms in the letter, including the publication of recent op-eds — including a recent essay by Vice President Mike Pence about coronavirus — that the staffers said was published “without checking government figures.” The piece also did not address the calls for better labeling of opinion pieces on the paper’s website and social media channels.

Instead, the board reassured longtime readers that the opinion section would continue to operate independently of the paper’s news section — and with a decidedly more conservative point of view. “The signers report to the News editors or other parts of the business, and the News and Opinion departments operate with separate staffs and editors. Both report to Publisher Almar Latour. This separation allows us to pursue stories and inform readers with independent judgment,” the paper said.

Representatives for the Journal did not immediately return a request for further comment.

“As long as our proprietors allow us the privilege to do so, the opinion pages will continue to publish contributors who speak their minds within the tradition of vigorous, reasoned discourse,” the editorial noted, concluding, “And these columns will continue to promote the principles of free people and free markets, which are more important than ever in what is a culture of growing progressive conformity and intolerance.”