WSJ to Commerce Secretary: Where’s the apology?

posted at 2:30 pm on April 29, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

It’s not often that a publication’s editorial board demands an apology from a contributor — for an article that they themselves published.  Today, the Wall Street Journal blasts Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for attacking firms that declared writedowns after the passage of ObamaCare as “irresponsible.”  Now that House Democrats have concluded that publicly-traded corporations understood the tax implications of ObamaCare better than they did, is it not time for Locke to apologize for his accusations?

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke rushed to attack AT&T, Verizon, Caterpillar and many others reporting losses from a tax increase on retiree drug benefits as “premature and irresponsible.” He later took to these pages to denounce those who noticed these writedowns as “disingenuous” and peddling “overheated rhetoric.” …

The larger question is what motivated the White House to unleash this assault. Democrats were amply warned about the destructive consequences of these tax changes, and if they really thought these companies were acting out of political motives, then they didn’t understand what was in their own bill. Or at least that’s one possibility.

More likely is that they did know and were simply trying to intimidate business and mislead the public in the early days of what was supposed to be the rapturous response to ObamaCare’s passage. Instead, the public has turned even more negative on the bill as Americans discover that it won’t control costs but will raise insurance premiums and taxes. No wonder Democrats want to change the subject to immigration and Goldman Sachs.

Not to point out the obvious, but why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place? Locke doesn’t have an entitlement to column space at the Journal, after all; the paper had no obligation to print it. Of all publications, the Journal had to know that the announcements were prompted by federal law, with the corporations facing legal sanctions if they didn’t announce the negative impact of ObamaCare as soon as it was apparent.

Beyond that, though, the Journal has this exactly correct. The pushback from the White House and Congress was meant to silence critics of the bill. Henry Waxman attempted to move farther down that road by threatening to subpoena corporate officers — until wiser heads prevailed among the Democrats — as a means of intimidating them into keeping their mouths shut.

Locke owes these companies, and critics of the White House, a public apology for his false accusations. Will we get it? The White House is probably already working on a sta — IMMIGRATION! ARIZONA! WALL STREET! Oh, excuse me; what were we discussing?


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WSJ, you want to hold government accountable? Why are you still dreaming?

Neuron on April 29, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Not to point out the obvious, but why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place? Locke doesn’t have an entitlement to column space at the Journal, after all; the paper had no obligation to print it.

If your enemy wants to shoot himself in the foot, offer to load the gun for him.

rbj on April 29, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Not to point out the obvious, but why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place?

Reminds me of when Charles Barkley complained that he’d been misquoted in his own autobiography.

Doughboy on April 29, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Oh, excuse me; what were we discussing?

Hmmm… not sure. The possibility of illegals, wallstreet, something called an apology?

upinak on April 29, 2010 at 2:36 PM

WSJ needs to apologize for its years of cheerleading for an open southern border.

funky chicken on April 29, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place?

Seems to me that the WSJ, knowing at the time that Locke was lying, should have offererd him space for his op-ed only on condition that the editorial staff write a rebuttal. That would make a lot more sense to me than crying about it a month later.

jwolf on April 29, 2010 at 2:39 PM

Not to point out the obvious, but why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place?

Fairness? Stifling the government response would be the same as stifling any other response.

“Hoist with his own petard” is the first thing that comes to mind.

ButterflyDragon on April 29, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Sounds like the WSJ is in CYA mode.

GarandFan on April 29, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Sounds like the WSJ is in CYA mode.

GarandFan on April 29, 2010 at 2:41 PM

Correct answer. We can close the thread now.

Johnnyreb on April 29, 2010 at 2:43 PM

Me, I think the Journal published Locke’s lies specifically so it could later go back and say he was a liar and thereby make the Obama Administration look bad! Strategerie, baby, strategerie!

Warner Todd Huston on April 29, 2010 at 2:47 PM

Not to point out the obvious, but why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place?

I’d like to believe that the WSJ was just handing the Democrats a nice length of rope.

myrenovations on April 29, 2010 at 2:48 PM

rbj on April 29, 2010 at 2:35 PM

Yes. They published somne drivel by Stenny Hoyer yesterday. Tomorrow they might shred his nonsense. Imagine if they refused to publish anything by Obooba Administration officials. Waxman would drag them into hearings.

Akzed on April 29, 2010 at 2:50 PM

Oh, excuse me; what were we discussing?

Oooh I know
typical white women beating up riot police , with their bare hands ?

macncheez on April 29, 2010 at 2:54 PM

Anybody else read that as “Commie Secretary Gary Locke?”

I thought there was some actual fact based reporting for once.

jukin on April 29, 2010 at 2:56 PM

What else can you expect from a lying liberal former governor of Washington State?

tbear44 on April 29, 2010 at 2:57 PM

I think the Republicans should have these CEOs appear on capital hill and explain why healthcare bill caused them to have writedowns (since the Democrats no longer want that information to get out).

GCM on April 29, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Sounds like the WSJ is in CYA mode.

GarandFan on April 29, 2010 at 2:41 PM

I disagree. It sounds like the Journal provided space for the administration to respond to their corporate critics, and gave Locke all the rope he asked to borrow, without censoring his opinion.

It is an Op/Ed page, after all.

Now that want him to explain his careless and fact-free opinion. Works for me.

Jaibones on April 29, 2010 at 3:06 PM

The Journal regularly has op-eds by gov. officials or prominent people who hold viewpoints opposed to their stated editorial philosophies. Often the main editorial will respond to an op-ed on the facing page. This is hardly a CYA situation. More like a set up.

Sefton on April 29, 2010 at 3:06 PM

…but why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place?

Hehe, why indeed.

Think anyone on the WSJ editorial board has ever played chess before?

Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.

Midas on April 29, 2010 at 3:09 PM

Wait…I’m turning purple.

Kissmygrits on April 29, 2010 at 3:11 PM

I guess Washington State was lucky he left.

unclesmrgol on April 29, 2010 at 3:16 PM

The White House is probably already working on a sta — IMMIGRATION! ARIZONA! WALL STREET! Oh, excuse me; what were we discussing?

heh

cmsinaz on April 29, 2010 at 3:32 PM

This is hardly a CYA situation. More like a set up.

Sefton on April 29, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Exactly. What’s the point of editing everyone’s work on an Opinion page?

Jaibones on April 29, 2010 at 3:32 PM

So either the communist er commerce secretary is completely ignorant of SEC disclosure regs, or he reflexively covers Ocare’s flaws by blowing smoke out of his butt. Or both.

In the event we forget about The Won’s totalitarian tendencies, regular reminders are helpful. There’s also a certain sense of security to know there’s someone there to make sure we don’t make, or keep too much of our own money.

ontherocks on April 29, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Not to point out the obvious, but why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place?

B/C responsible news organizations have a responsibility to present the other side of an argument from responsible parties, even if the statement is boneheaded, malicious, ignorant and just plain wrong.
It makes it that much sweeter for the news organization to point out that their attempted act of balance was misused and perverted by an adminsitration that is boneheaded, malicious, ignorant and wrong.

gonnjos on April 29, 2010 at 3:36 PM

why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place?

Does the idea of offering enough rope to hang oneself ring a bell? Actually, I think they were working in the interest of their readership to provide information from one in a position of power. I’m glad his, um, “position” (rymes with Pull-Sit) is properly on the record.

dts-01 on April 29, 2010 at 4:19 PM

They lies cause more lies.

The increase in “write downs of earnings” cause corporate tax collections to fall. I am sure no one will call the congressional Budget office and tell they they must lower the estimates of income tax collections from corporations because the insurance goes up, income goes down and tax collected falls.

In Obama’s twisted logic, he should want large and small companies, white millionaires and billionaires to make tons of money so they could pay billions in taxes.

Algore has been fleecing the flock
Rev Jeremiah Wright fleeced the flock and built a 5-10 million dollar house. Rich white neighborhood. No money for the needy except him.

seven on April 29, 2010 at 4:24 PM

The WSJ doesn’t sound very grateful. They should be thanking Secretary Locke for writing an article for them.

Lily on April 29, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Not to point out the obvious, but why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place?

Seriously? The WSJ just gave Locke enough rope to hang himself. I thought it was obvious – and brilliant!

Paul_in_NJ on April 29, 2010 at 11:10 PM

Not to point out the obvious, but why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place?

Ummm. Sometimes when dealing with slick talking, shuckin’-n-jivin’ thugs, the best way to refute them is to give them the petard to hoist themselves with. If WSJ refused to let Locke speak, the WH would’ve attacked them as they did another certain Murdoch enterprise.

Here, Locke can’t blame anyone for ‘misconstruing’ his words. Now it’s apologize or else…

AH_C on April 30, 2010 at 12:09 AM

AH_C has the substance of the answer to your question. But let me take it one step further. If the WSJ were a Dem or Dem-supporting media outlet, the answer to your question would be simple. Let’s take a trip to this parallel world. Suppose the Leftist WSJ prints the facts concerning the impact of a just passed piece of Republican legislation. Then they invite a Republican cabinet officer to author a piece that accuses the WSJ of lying, distorting, misleading or some combination of all these. Then, as the evidence piles up that the WSJ was, if fact, accurate, then they PUBLICIZE the fact that the Republican official was incorrect and asking for him to publicly plead guilty. Thus, the WSJ allows their readers to speculate as to whether this fellow is dumb, misinformed, or just toeing the party line. All this results in the evil Republicans being further embarrassed in a fairly high profile way. We wouldn’t think twice about the willingness or the ability of the Dems and their followers to carry out such a well crafted scheme. The problem with Ed’s reaction is that he apparently cannot conceive of Conservatives being as skilled at political chicanery and trap setting as the Leftist Dems. Why not at least entertain the possibility that this was a set up and that Locke obligingly volunteered to be the fall guy. I like that scenario better.

boqueronman on April 30, 2010 at 12:34 PM