The Wall Street Journal has published op-eds from 12 writers without disclosing their roles as advisers to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. The op-eds attack President Obama and his administration or discuss Romney on a range of topics like the economy, health care, education and foreign policy.
According to a Media Matters review, the Journal published a total of 25 pieces from the following Romney advisers without disclosing their campaign ties: John Bolton; Max Boot; Lee A. Casey; Seth Cropsey; Paula Dobriansky; Mary Ann Glendon; Kevin Hassett; Glenn Hubbard; Michael Mukasey; Paul E. Peterson; David B. Rivkin Jr.; and Martin West. In several instances, the Journal failed to disclose an op-ed writer's connection despite its own news section reporting that the writer is advising Romney.
With respect to one writer, the Journal disclosed his ties to the campaign in an initial op-ed but failed to do so in subsequent op-eds. With regard to another, the paper failed to disclose the campaign ties in an initial op-ed but did do so in later pieces. The 10 remaining writers have not had their Romney connections disclosed in any of their op-eds following the publication of those ties, according to Media Matters' review.
Media Matters previously documented that the Journal for months regularly failed to disclose columnist Karl Rove's ties to the super PAC American Crossroads and its related organization Crossroads GPS, which are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat President Obama and other Democratic candidates. After drawing criticism from some of America's top editorial page editors as well as Trevor Potter, who served as general counsel to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaigns, the Journal began disclosing Rove's Crossroads role in late September.
Fox News, which, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp., has had similar problems. There have been numerous instances in which the network has hosted Romney advisers John Bolton, Elaine Chao, Jay Sekulow, and Walid Phares without disclosing their ties.
Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot and spokespersons for the paper and for News Corp. did not respond to requests for comment.
This post will be updated as we discover new examples of the Journal failing to disclose Romney advisers writing in its pages.
The WSJ reported in a July 22 article, headlined, “Romney's Top Foreign-Policy Advisers: Moderates, Neocons”: “The neoconservative wing is represented but doesn't dominate the group. While former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton offers advice, he isn't one of the most prominent figures.”
WSJ non-disclosure: Two op-eds.
In an April 29 op-ed about President Obama's policy with regard to Syria, the Journal disclosed that Bolton “advises Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.” That note was not included in two later Bolton op-eds despite discussion of Obama in those pieces:
- A July 17 op-ed questioned President Obama's support of the Law of the Sea Treaty. Bolton also attacked the U.S. for a “lack of effective” oversight of the United Nations.
- A September 10 op-ed criticized President Obama over foreign policy and allegedly weakening the U.S. Navy.
In those two op-eds, the WSJ identified Bolton as: "Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations” (Simon & Schuster, 2007)."
WSJ non-disclosure: Four op-eds.
Boot has written four Journal op-eds this year in which he's criticized the Obama administration's handling of foreign policy:
- A February 28 op-ed claimed that the security situation in Afghanistan “has been put in serious jeopardy by President Obama's decision to bring home 32,000 troops by September.”
- An April 18 op-ed criticized the Obama administration for cutting troops in Afghanistan and for its funding level for the Afghan army and police forces.
- A June 24 op-ed criticized the Obama administration over its handling of the Scarborough Shoal dispute, and alleged that the Obama administration was weak in its handling of China.
- An August 28 op-ed criticized Obama for being “willing to order troops to fight but not to talk about why they fight or how their fight is going” and lacking a “coherent message to deliver” about Afghanistan.
The WSJ identified Boot as a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of an upcoming book.
The Journal disclosed that Boot was a Romney adviser in a September 28 book review. The Journal published two book reviews this year -- on May 31 and June 22 -- by Boot in which he was critical of the Obama administration but did not note his campaign ties. (Media Matters did not tally book review pieces in this op-ed study.)
Role with Romney campaign: Members of Romney's Justice Advisory Committee. [MittRomney.com, 8/2/11]
WSJ non-disclosure: Nine op-eds combined (seven by Casey and Rivkin, and two by Rivkin without Casey).
Rivkin and Casey have written seven Journal op-eds together attacking the Obama administration on a variety of legal issues:
- An August 18, 2011, op-ed argued that Obama's health care law is unconstitutional.
- A September 20, 2011, op-ed criticized the Obama administration's actions on a Palestinian statehood resolution. The op-ed began by agreeing with the Obama administration's decision to oppose a move by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to seek recognition of a Palestinian state from the United Nations. But the writers later criticized the Obama administration for having “failed to present the case against a Palestinian statehood resolution in legal rather than tactical terms, even though these arguments are obvious and would greatly reinforce the U.S. position, also providing a thoroughly neutral basis for many of our allies, particularly in Europe, to oppose Mr. Abbas's statehood bid.”
- A November 15, 2011, op-ed argued that Obama's health care law is unconstitutional.
- A January 6 op-ed criticized Obama's recess appointments of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Richard Cordray and members of the National Labor Relations Board as “unconstitutional” and “an unprecedented power grab.”
- A March 23 op-ed criticized Obama's health care law as unconstitutional and claimed that “upholding ObamaCare would destroy this dual-sovereignty system, the most distinctive feature of American constitutionalism.”
- A June 29 op-ed criticized Obama's health care law in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision.
- A July 26 op-ed began with the falsehood that “Obama unilaterally gutted the Clinton administration's signature achievement--welfare reform.” The op-ed went on to accuse Obama of taking “the hatchet to the immigration laws and to the Bush-era 'No Child Left Behind' statute.” The writers wrote that Obama's actions show “that he won't respect these basic constitutional limits on his power.” The op-ed added that Obama's actions should “outrage all of us--including and especially members of Congress on both sides of the party divide” and suggested that the president wasn't fit to take the oath of office.
Rivkin also co-wrote two Journal op-eds without Casey which attacked the Obama administration:
- A December 7, 2011, op-ed with Charles Stimson attacked the Obama administration over its handling of detainees in American custody.
- A February 15 op-ed with Edward Whelan attacked the Obama administration over health care reform's contraception mandate. The op-ed accused the Obama administration of violating the First Amendment and being “more interested in punishing religiously based opposition to contraception and abortion than in marginally increasing access to contraception services.”
The WSJ has identified Casey and Rivkin as lawyers who served during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, and, at times, as representing states challenging the health care law. It has also identified Rivkin as a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
WSJ non-disclosure: One op-ed.
An October 18 op-ed, which Cropsey co-authored with Douglas J. Feith, criticized Obama's response to the September attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya, repeating the myth that the president did not immediately call it a terrorist attack.
In the op-ed, the WSJ identifies Cropsey as deputy undersecretary of the Navy in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and a Hudson Institute senior fellow.
Role with Romney campaign: Special adviser, Foreign Policy and National Security Advisory Team; Co-chair, international organizations working group. [MittRomney.com, 10/7/11]
WSJ non-disclosure: One op-ed.
Dobriansky co-wrote a July 8 op-ed which criticized President Obama's foreign policy. Dobriansky wrote that Obama's approach to Libya “simply will not work in dealing with current challenges and those that may emerge in the next three to five years.” She also criticized Obama's handling of Europe's economic problems, writing that “Obama has called for greater trade with Europe, but his administration has pursued a free-trade agreement without a sense of urgency or clear leadership from the top.”
The WSJ identified Dobriansky as: “Ms. Dobriansky, a former undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs, is an adjunct senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.”
Role with Romney campaign: Co-chair of Romney's Justice Advisory Committee. [MittRomney.com, 8/2/11]; National co-chair, Catholics for Romney. [7/31/12]; Narrator of January pro-Romney video [YouTube.com, 1/13/12].
An October 28, 2011, WSJ blog post noted that Glendon is co-chairing Romney's Justice Advisory Committee.
WSJ non-disclosure. One op-ed.
Glendon wrote a May 21 op-ed criticizing the Obama administration's contraception mandate. Glendon falsely claimed that the “main goal of the mandate is not, as HHS claimed, to protect women's health. It is rather a move to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda, forcing them to facilitate and fund services that violate their beliefs, within their own institutions.”
The WSJ identified Glendon as: "Ms. Glendon is professor at Harvard Law School."
On September 7, a WSJ article on President Obama's economic goals for a second term cited Hassett as “an adviser to the Romney campaign.”
WSJ non-disclosure: One op-ed.
In an October 24 op-ed, Hassett and co-author Aparna Mathur downplayed income inequality as a campaign issue, arguing that Obama has used it as a central theme in his campaign speeches to “blast a caricature of his opponent's economic policies.”
Hassett is identified as director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
Role with Romney campaign: One of the leaders of Romney's Economic Policy Team. [MittRomney.com, 9/6/11]
A September 7, 2011, WSJ article noted that Hubbard is advising Romney.
WSJ non-disclosure: One op-ed.
In a November 23, 2011, op-ed, Hubbard assailed President Obama on taxes, spending, and health care.
On taxes, Hubbard wrote that “President Obama's answer is higher taxes. But he can't be serious. Just accommodating his spending plans over the next decade requires across-the-board tax increases of 20%. Over the next 25 years, taxes would need to rise across the board by 60%.” Hubbard additionally argued that lawmakers should repeal “ObamaCare and its expansion of spending” and criticized “President Obama's leadership failure” on fiscal matters.
Role with Romney campaign: Co-chair of Law Enforcement Advisory Group. [MittRomney.com, 10/28/11].
Last October, the WSJ reported that Mukasey endorsed Romney and was named to the campaign's law enforcement advisory committee.
WSJ non-disclosure: Three op-eds.
Mukasey has written three op-eds which were critical of the Obama administration:
- An April 30 op-ed criticized Obama for his “plans during the coming campaign to exploit the bragging rights” to the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, adding that it “invites scrutiny that is unlikely to benefit him.”
- A June 20 op-ed criticized the Obama administration for the “imprudent release of secrets [which] has become a hallmark of the current administration.”
- A September 24 op-ed pushed the bogus rumor that President Obama may release convicted terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so called “Blind Sheikh” who was behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Mukasey relied on “the impression several officials have given over the past three months” to make this claim, but offered no concrete evidence to support it. The Obama administration has denied that such a plan is being considered, with one White House spokesman calling the rumor “utter garbage.”
The WSJ identified Mukasey as the U.S. attorney general from 2007 to 2009 and a U.S. district judge from 1988 to 2006.
Role with Romney campaign: Members of Romney's Education Policy Advisory Group; West is K-12 Education co-chair. [MittRomney.com, 5/22/12]
WSJ non-disclosure: Two op-eds combined (one by Peterson and West, one by Peterson without West).
Peterson and West, along with William Howell, wrote a June 4 op-ed finding that “teachers unions already appear to be losing a larger political fight--in public opinion.” The op-ed discussed Romney: “Political campaigns may already have noticed this shift. In a recent address on education, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney called teachers unions 'the clearest example of a group that has lost its way.'”
In an August 23 op-ed with Matthew Chingos, Peterson criticized Obama's position on vouchers.
The WSJ identified Peterson as a professor at Harvard and a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution. The WSJ identified West as: "Mr. West is a professor at Harvard's Graduate School of Education."
Note: Media Matters checked the Journal's identifications of the op-ed writers through its website and the Factiva database.
Additional reporting by Joe Strupp.