Joe Pompeo writes: The editorial page has been doing crazy shit for a long time,” a former long-serving Wall Street Journal editor told me this week. This person was referencing the time-honored divide in most journalistic organizations between the newsroom and the opinion desk. At the Journal, that divide can be particularly fraught. While the paper has long been a leading bastion of conservative thinking, its editorial writers are known to take positions that are more extreme than many of their colleagues in the newsroom can stomach.
The friction is, in some ways, a hallmark of the institution. A decade ago, an editorial-page columnist attacked a 2006 Journal series about the practice of backdating stock-option awards that went on to win a Pulitzer Prize. The page also once defended billionaire junk-bond king Michael Milken, who got a 10-year sentence for securities fraud in 1990 based in part on exposés by Journal reporters. Nevertheless, several Journal veterans I spoke with described the current rift as among the more fractious they’ve witnessed. “It does feel like this is a different level of crazy,” the veteran editor said. [Continue reading…]