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The Journal's predictable and lamentable op-ed page

July 20, 2012 - Mike Maneval
Ryan Chittum, for the Columbia Journalism Review, recently examined how the editorialists of one of America's leading newspapers is addressing the Barclay's scandal spreading from Great Britain around the globe, and found sophistries both predictable and, for the future of the U.S., lamentable.

The newspaper in question is the Wall Street Journal, the op-ed page of which likely is the most widely read purveyor of conservatism printed today. And what Chittum found were alternating attempts to minimize the importance of the malfeasance and to, in Chittum's words, "shift the blame to (the Journal's) three favorite boogeymen: the press, the government, and the lawyers."

Chittum details how, in the world as the Journal's editorialists see it, actions to which Barclay's executives already admitted still are allegations, and focuses instead on government failures to maintain adequate oversight. As Chittum succinctly notes, "That regulators may have failed to act promptly when alerted to this mess hardly excuses those who perpetrated it." And the Journal's chagrin for lackadaisical oversight becomes comical when the very same editorial page attempts to dismiss evidence of how brazen interest rate manipulation was by labeling emails exchanged between Barclay's bankers as "bravado."

While the Journal editorialists' efforts to absolve the banking executives are predictable, they also remain lamentable. Because the Wall Street Journal, in many ways, remains the flagship newspaper for a political movement firmly entrenched in our two-party system, and when that movement's leadership firmly is committed to preserving a climate in which a privileged, well-connected elite that controls finance can evade responsibility for wrong-doing - as the Journal's desperate hunt for scapegoats at regulatory agencies suggests they are - it has potentially dire consequences for equality and the rule of law for every American.


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