By Raggie Jessy
On the morning of Sept 1, 2016, citizens of the United States (US) of America were greeted with headlines that read “Trump Softens His Tone,” a reference to an immigration policy speech that the (then) Republican presidential nominee delivered moments after meeting the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto. Hours later, the same paper dished out yet another headline, this time reading, “Trump Talks Tough on The Wall.”
Now, if you haven’t already guessed, the two headlines were from a media channel that isn’t alien to readers in this neck of the woods. And I’m referring to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the guys who told us in July 2015 that Datuk Seri Najib Razak conspired with people in 1MDB to funnel some billions into his personal accounts.
When approached, WSJ insiders pointed out that print papers “sometimes undergo revisions throughout their daily runs” and employ markers to distinguish the conflicting editions. But a check by TTF revealed that the markers were not easily detectable, let alone accounted for to readers in terms of significance or standards of reference.
It was deceptive journalism at best.
But the paper’s publishers were quick to deny this. They pointed out that the contradiction was the result of a revision to Trump’s immigration policy speech that the presidential candidate himself effected. Now, as much as I hate to admit this, the publishers’ account does indeed check out. Apparently, the speech was revised moments after Peña Nieto tweeted that Mexico would not be paying for the wall.
And that pissed the hell out of the Donald.
So much, it prompted him to toughen his stance on Mexico by tweaking his speech, adding that the republic “don’t know it yet but they’re going to pay for the wall.” But this is where things start to take a turn for the weird – apparently, the guys at WSJ did not see fit to report the tweak and chose instead to edit only that one headline, the one that read “Trump Softens His Tone.” Worse, the paper’s publishers made no attempt to alert readers of the revision or wait until the next morning – which was hours away – to run the edited version.
Yes, not only did WSJ publish two very conflicting headlines in just one day, it made damned sure that both editions were identical in every other respect and refused to retract the first edition. That left a very sour taste in the mouths of Republicans, who began accusing the George Soros linked daily of helping bolster support for the (then) Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
According to the GOP, WSJ deliberately circulated the “Trump Softens His Tone” headline in pro-Trump areas and distributed the “Trump Talks Tough on Wall” headline in non-Trump markets. The publishers denied this as much as they did allegations that they were paid to sway support in Hillary’s favour. But no amount of denials could offset their refusal to issue a retraction, a refusal Trump and his team seem to hold against them to this day.
And remember, we’re talking WSJ, the guys who told us on July 2, 2015 that a conspiracy existed to funnel USD692.1 million from 1MDB into the Prime Minister’s personal account. And here’s the kicker – the publishers hinged their story exclusively on investigation papers they claimed had originated from Malaysian authorities. However, the said authorities had yet to conduct probes or file the said papers at the time of publication, meaning, the WSJ report was hinged on complete fabrications.
The evidence is overwhelming. – The Third Force
* The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Malaysia Outlook.