WSJ Chastises Trump’s Slander
The President's unhinged Twitter rants have drawn a rebuke from an unlikely source.
President Trump so routinely used his Twitter account to spread outrageous lies and innuendo that it has, sadly, became almost normalized. The Wall Street Journal editorial board, however, has its limits.
The following was published online last evening (and presumably in this morning’s print edition) under the headline “A Presidential Smear.” And, unusually, not placed behind a paywall.
Donald Trump sometimes traffics in conspiracy theories—recall his innuendo in 2016 about Ted Cruz’s father and the JFK assassination—but his latest accusation against MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is ugly even for him. Mr. Trump has been tweeting the suggestion that Mr. Scarborough might have had something to do with the death in 2001 of a young woman who worked in his Florida office when Mr. Scarborough was a GOP Congressman.
“A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator? Read story!” Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday while retweeting a dubious account of the case.
He kept it going Tuesday with new tweets: “The opening of a Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough was not a Donald Trump original thought, this has been going on for years, long before I joined the chorus. . . . So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?” Nasty stuff, and from the Oval Office to more than 80 million Twitter followers.
There’s no evidence of foul play, or an affair with the woman, and the local coroner ruled that the woman fainted from an undiagnosed heart condition and died of head trauma. Some on the web are positing a conspiracy because the coroner had left a previous job under a cloud, but the parents and husband of the young woman accepted the coroner’s findings and want the case to stay closed.
Mr. Trump always hits back at critics, and Mr. Scarborough has called the President mentally ill, among other things. But suggesting that the talk-show host is implicated in the woman’s death isn’t political hardball. It’s a smear. Mr. Trump rightly denounces the lies spread about him in the Steele dossier, yet here he is trafficking in the same sort of trash.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, had it right when he tweeted on the weekend: “Completely unfounded conspiracy. Just stop. Stop spreading it, stop creating paranoia. It will destroy us.”
These tweets are absolutely in violation of Twitter’s terms of service and, were it anyone else, the tweets would have been deleted and the account temporarily suspended, if not banned. But, of course, the President of the United States is not anyone else and the company is, quite rightly, leery of denying the most powerful man in the world its platform.
The WSJ editors are, also rightly, resigned that their rebuke will go unheeded by the President.
We don’t write this with any expectation that Mr. Trump will stop. Perhaps he even thinks this helps him politically, though we can’t imagine how. But Mr. Trump is debasing his office, and he’s hurting the country in doing so.
One hopes that some lifelong Republicans who are regular readers of the paper will finally be persuaded that Trump is unfit for the office he holds. But, frankly, if they haven’t come around to that view by now, it’s hard to imagine some outrageous tweets about a former Republican Congressman turned morning talk host will do the trick.