A Kinder, Gentler Hatchet Job
By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
Have you ever written something that you thought was really well written? An article that gets across your meaning in its entirety in just the right way? Only later, to have someone edit your article and in editing it, change the whole thrust of your logic and intent? It happens to most writers at one point or another in their careers. But there is a right and a wrong way for it to occur.
Typically, you write an article and submit it for review. If changes are needed, it is either sent back to the author to change, or the editor changes it and then lets the author know prior to the article being run. That’s what usually happens, but not always.
Last week, Pierre Legrand brought to my attention an article written by Timo Juhani Soini, a Finnish politician. To be specific, the chairman of the True Finn Party in Finland. The article was published by the Wall Street Journal who I personally love to read. However, no matter how much I respect the media outlet (and there are very few these days) it does not excuse what happened next. The next day, the article appeared substantially edited. This is not just editorial license where the editor tampers with the author’s written word. It’s far worse… The WSJ published the article and THEN went back and took out whole swaths of key points made by the author. That is far more offensive than simply changing the article and then publishing it. The entire piece changed so much, it is hardly recognizable as the original work – this is ‘altered news’ or ‘news suppression’ and definitely a form of censorship in my opinion. The original intent of the article was very damning concerning the topic of ‘bailouts’ and rightly so.
You can find the current posting of the article here. The original article is here. Unfortunately for the WSJ, this article is printed in its original format at various places on the web and can be accessed easily. The sanitizing of the article is obvious.
Here are a couple of examples of the modifications to the article. The first paragraph with the redacted content in bold:
When I had the honor of leading the True Finn Party to electoral victory in April, we made a solemn promise to oppose the so-called bailouts of euro-zone member states. These bailouts are patently bad for Europe, bad for Finland and bad for the countries that have been forced to accept them. Europe is suffering from the economic gangrene of insolvency—both public and private. And unless we amputate that which cannot be saved, we risk poisoning the whole body.
The second paragraph – all of which was deleted:
The official wisdom is that Greece, Ireland and Portugal have been hit by a liquidity crisis, so they needed a momentary infusion of capital, after which everything would return to normal. But this official version is a lie, one that takes the ordinary people of Europe for idiots. They deserve better from politics and their leaders.
Another paragraph that was deleted would have been the eleventh paragraph had the article been printed as intended:
And so, unpurged, the gangrene spreads. The Spanish property sector is much bigger and more uncharted than that of Ireland. It is not just the cajas that are in trouble. There are major Spanish banks where what lies beneath the surface of the balance sheet may be a zombie, just as happened in Ireland for a while. The clock is ticking, and the problem is not going away.
I’m not going to go through the entire piece – fair use and all that. But you get the general drift. It was a kinder, gentler hatchet job. The Lizzy Borden school of editing if you will. The Wall Street Journal should be held accountable for this. Either print the piece in its entirety or not at all. Or at least, if you disagree with parts of it, publish a counterpoint. But don’t butcher it to the point that it is malicious revisionism.
I think you would agree that with the original content, it reads a bit differently. The question is, why the heavy handed editing? Was it for political reasons? Because it sure looks that way to me. There are statements in there that indicate that Ireland was intentionally done in. Just as I believe is happening now in America.
And it wouldn’t be so bad if it were just some other tabloid wannabe news rag, but the Wall Street Journal is supposed to be the gold standard in financial and economic reporting. They are fully inducted members of the time honored fourth estate, guardians of governance.
One wonders then what kind of coercion – and from what quarter – must be brought to bear to compromise the integrity of one of the most reliable stalwarts of reporting integrity of the current day? And this unpleasant question invites further wonder: what other revealing reportage has been similarly compromised? Because where there is editorial smoke, there is revisionist fire.
And if the question be asked, then how would we know? And who would know it?