let’s give a huge tax break to Mr. Murdoch |


It’s been fun and amusing to watch the Wall Street Journal go through contortions ever since Trump announced for President.

At first, they were aghast. The paper is the voice of high finance in America, the responsible (more or less) face of capitalism, usually associated with Eastern rich men of the Nelson Rockefeller stripe: educated, reasonable, fair-minded, looking out for their own class, but willing to throw working stiffs an occasional bone. Trump is an Eastern rich man, but he’s never been responsible or remotely fair-minded; even the high Republican circles of Manhattan steered clear of him. His vulgarity, the sordid part of his life (an open secret), his shadowy business practices and non-payment of debts, his ugly self-promotion (proper rich Republicans never promote themselves; it’s unseemly)—these all made Trump persona non grata to the rich Republican class that fancies itself ethical.

So their voice, the Wall Street Journal, couldn’t hide its shock and embarrassment when Trump actually got the nomination. The columnists had that deer-in-the-headlights look: What the hell are we supposed to do now? The only one of them who admitted being ill at ease with Trump’s rise was Karl Rove, and that was more about his own profits than any personal doubts about Trump’s morality. Rove has gotten rich from being a consultant to Republican candidates, many of them as amoral as Trump. But he didn’t see Trump coming; he backed the wrong people, and so he missed the boat.

Aside from Rove, the Journal’s other op-ed writers were clearly adrift. They didn’t know what to say. At first, some were doubtful. As Trump nudged closer to Hillary Clinton in the polls, they began to hedge their bets. It was like they were thinking, “Holy crap, this guy might actually get elected.” Rupert Murdoch himself seemed torn. He’s a billionaire, and not a particularly classy man–four marriages, lots of scandals–but Trump was too gross even for him.

Then Trump had the nerve to get elected, and Murdoch and his columnists had to scramble, and fast. You don’t want the President of the United States to be pissed off at you. So the columnists began to praise Trump—faintly, at first, and then more overtly. Nowadays, the Wall Street Journal has become one of Trump’s biggest fans—not an ass-kissing shtump like Sean Hannity, but close enough. Their editorial page likewise has turned into a propaganda sheet for the regime. They can’t always approve of everything Trump does—the lying, the bullying, the wrong “facts,” insulting foreign leaders, the sexual predation, and did I mention the lying? But when they can’t praise Trump, they can always find a Democrat to bash.

Take Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., who for my money is the most deplorable of the basket of deplorables that writes for Rupert Murdoch. In yesterday’s paper, all he could do was to hop onto the Pocahontas train (with Donald W. Trump as conductor) and add his own insults to Elizabeth Warren. Like a nasty, mean frat boy throwing wet toilet paper, he hurls smears: “the Warren junta,” her “absurdity,” the “ludricrous dispute” she has allegedly launched to protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Did Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. lose anything in the Great Bush Recession, like so many of the rest of us? Was he happy with the wanton cheating by Wall Street Banks? Did he benefit from the banks stealing tens of billions of dollars from hapless homeowners who lost everything?

Then, to add insult to injury—or vice versa—also in yesterday’s Journal was their second lead editorial, which called Elizabeth Warren and Leandra English “drama queens,” and accused them of doing “photo-ops” this week (as if Warren were the only politician ever to talk in front of T.V. cameras. Someone should tell John McCain about photo ops. Trump, too.)

There is more than a little misogyny in these attacks on Sen. Warren and Ms. English. But then, misogyny, which used to be considered bad manners, now is acceptable, ever since the misogynist-in-chief, who now is the President of the United States, began expressing it blatantly, and getting away with it. The Journal also is—predictably—strongly in favor of Trump’s tax plan; whatever is in it (no one seems to really know), Rupert Murdoch knows he and his family will save billions, which is why the paper’s editorial page has consistently urged its passage. Yesterday’s lead editorial called it “the most pro-growth tax reform in 30 years,” without telling anyone about how much it will benefit the Murdochs (and the Trumps, for that matter). And then, the editorial included this howler: the bill, they wrote, has been “developed in an open process under regular order.”

Really? There have been no hearings. No budget committee, no finance committee has been able to ask anyone any questions. The bill is being rushed through in order to accomplish two purposes: first, the longer it remains a topic of conversation, the more obvious its horrible effects on the poor and the middle class become. Second, Trump wants something—anything—he can claim as a victory by Christmas. Otherwise, his first year will be derided as a joke.

So here we are: Republicans about to pass an insidious tax bill that helps people like Trump and raises taxes on ordinary working Americans. And the Wall Street Journal, like the good Republican fixer it is, is greasing the skids for passage. The one thing I will add, in the paper’s defense, is that its regular reporters—not the op-ed whores, but the real journalists—are professionals. Evidence: an article in yesterday’s paper, “Tax Plan Threatens Affordable Housing.” They buried that nugget on Page B6. You’d never know, from the editorial pages, that this pending tax monstrosity is going to be the death knell for housing the middle class can afford, because Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump don’t want you to know.

It’s odd: Murdoch tried for a year to distance himself from Trump, but now, they’re Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The Republican Party–Rupert Murdoch’s party–is the party of Trump. That’s the message Democrats are going to hammer home as we head into the 2018 elections. People hate Trump: they’re going to learn to hate the Republican Party, too.

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