By William K. Black
June 6, 2017 Bloomington, MN
Rupert Murdoch controls the Wall Street Journal and Fox News. Even before he acquired the WSJ its editorial board was known for its members’ ultra-right wing fervor. The acquisition intensified that fervor. The editorial board’s fervor has infected the WSJ’s news pages. That is the context essential to understanding the significance of its June 6, 2017 editorial eviscerating President Donald Trump. They entitled their editorial “The Buck Stops Everywhere Else.” Here is the most damning paragraph. .
If this pattern continues, Mr. Trump may find himself running an Administration with no one but his family and the Breitbart staff. People of talent and integrity won’t work for a boss who undermines them in public without thinking about the consequences. And whatever happened to the buck stops here?
In addition to the obvious slam, consider several aspects of the content, tone, and timing of the editorial. They published it on the anniversary of D-Day, a day of courage and personal responsibility. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Allied commander of the invasion and future president of the United States, took a large gamble on the weather clearing enough to allow the invasion to occur. The editorial, appropriately, given tight word count limits, did not explain what so many adult Americans recall – the last sentence of Eisenhower’s statement to the public in the event the invasion failed. He personally drafted the statement.
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.
Those are the words of a real commander-in-chief and a president. The editorial relied on the even better known words of President Harry S. Truman, the slogan on his desk: “The Buck Stops Here.” Truman served with distinction as an artillery officer in World War I. He spoke the words of a real officer and president. One man was a Republican, the other a Democrat, but their message was identical. I take personal responsibility for the actions of my artillery company, my entire invasion force, or my administration.
The WSJ was shaming Trump with the title of its editorial and the line “whatever happened to the buck stops here?” The editorial was accusing him of moral cowardice. The specific context was Trump’s tweeted attacks on his Department of Justice for his revised executive order on refugees. Trump, of course, signed that revised executive order.
The WSJ rubbed in Trump’s moral cowardice by publishing the print version of its editorial on the anniversary of D-Day. In comparison with giants like Eisenhower and Truman, Trump comes across as vanishingly small. Trump was a rich man’s son who could afford a doctor who wrote up a bogus physical infirmity to allow him to escape the draft. (Trump is so lazy that in an interview he could not even remember which leg his phantom bone spurs supposedly impaired. He was unable to walk long distances, except on a golf course.)
The other remarkable fact about the editorial is that it admits that the candidate they endorsed and Murdoch championed is a person who lacks “integrity” and has surrounded himself with family members and malicious sycophants that lack “talent and integrity.” It then predicts that no one of talent and integrity will be willing to work in the Trump administration because they would be contaminated by and contemptuous of Trump’s moral cowardice.