On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board published a scathing criticism of President Trump, warning that “if he doesn't show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he's a fake President.” It also colorfully says that “the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle.”
The week started on a bad note for Trump, with FBI Director James Comey debunking his wiretapping claims in a hearing on Monday. On that topic, the editorial, titled “A President’s Credibility,” accused Trump of “rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims.” In the piece, which unabashedly skewers Trump, the editorial board made a point of defending White House press secretary Sean Spicer, writing that he “doesn’t deserve this treatment.”
Trump has spent much of the week stumping on behalf of the Republican health care plan, which has been criticized by members of his own party and, it’s worth noting, by typically pro-Trump media outlets such as Breitbart as well.
The editorial also goes in on Trump’s attempts to sell unconvinced House Republicans on the bill:
All of this continues the pattern from the campaign that Mr. Trump is his own worst political enemy. He survived his many false claims as a candidate because his core supporters treated it as mere hyperbole and his opponent was untrustworthy Hillary Clinton. But now he’s President, and he needs support beyond the Breitbart cheering section that will excuse anything. As he is learning with the health-care bill, Mr. Trump needs partners in his own party to pass his agenda. He also needs friends abroad who are willing to trust him when he asks for support, not least in a crisis.
That Trump seems to have lost the editorial board of the Journal shows just how poor a job he’s doing. Since his election, the paper’s opinion pages had been moving in a more pro-Trump direction. In February, an op-ed editor critical of the president was reportedly dismissed. The same month, Politico’s Joe Pompeo reported that there was ongoing tension at the Journal regarding how the paper should treat Trump.
Wednesday’s op-ed is notable for its explosive language — but also for its break from the direction the Wall Street Journal seemed to be heading in. If the editorial board thinks it can impact the president’s behavior by calling him out, though, it’s likely to be disappointed.