Avoid ‘Majority Muslim’ in Travel Ban Reports: WSJ Editor to Staff

The editor though ‘majority muslim’ was too loaded a term.

2 min read
An internal email passed around in the Wall Street Journal newsroom on Tuesday, has caused some disquiet.  (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)

An internal email passed around in the Wall Street Journal newsroom on Tuesday, caused some disquiet among employees as well as the journalistic community in the United States.

Editor-in-Chief Gerry Baker sent out a directive saying:

Can we stop saying ‘seven majority Muslim countries’? It’s very loaded.

He was referring to the publication’s choice of terminology when talking about US President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban.

Baker elaborated saying:

The reason they’ve been chosen is not because they’re majority Muslim but because they’re on the list of countries [sic] Obama identified as countries of concern. Would be less loaded to say ‘seven countries the US has designated as being states that pose significant or elevated risks of terrorism.’

Trump’s order places a ban on members of seven ‘Muslim majority’ countries – Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia – though the administration has stoically maintained that the order is not a “Muslim ban”.

During his campaign, the President had openly called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” until US authorities could “figure out what is going on.” So, an order of this nature, two weeks into his Presidency, is unlikely to be a coincidence.

A Journal spokesperson later clarified saying:

This email was part of a larger conversation discussing late breaking developments as a story was being edited on deadline. In this same email chain, Gerard Baker also pushed to include, and prominently feature, quotes from more critics of Trump’s policy. Since the news broke on Friday, the Journal has accurately and thoroughly reported on the policy and will continue to do so.

According to Politico, the past few months has seen dissonances among reporters and editors in the Journal newsroom over Baker’s handling of Trump’s coverage. Some find the coverage to be vanilla and soft compared to the publication’s competitors.

There is no editorial justification for his objection. For the EIC of a major American paper to go out of his way to whitewash this is unconscionable.
Politico quoted an inside source as saying

Twitterati Enrage

The news of this email left Twitterati angry and disillusioned with WSJ’s coverage.

(With inputs from Buzzfeed, Politico)

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