Among the many possible (but otherwise unpopular) scandals that plagued Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, his alleged ties to the mob ranked fairly low on the list. The Republican hopeful repeatedly denied the accusations levied against him by rival Ted Cruz and others, but the evidence kept piling up. In the end, it had about as much of an effect on the GOP primaries and the general election as stories of possible Russian collusion did — much to the annoyance of many of the staffers at the Wall Street Journal. Their editorial page repeatedly attacked the would-be president for his ties to the mob (and other things).
According to a lengthy new story in Esquire, however, a subsequent exodus by five of the WSJ‘s editorial page staffers was the direct result of the paper’s efforts to kill an op-ed denouncing Trump’s mob connections:
[The] reason, according to several defectors, was the Journal’s skidding reversal once Rupert Murdoch realized Trump could win. Several sources pointed to the editorials by one writer, James Freeman. “All-in for Ted Cruz” during the primaries, Freeman wrote a strong attack on Trump’s Mob dealings, and had a second ready to go. But as Trump got closer to clinching the nomination, Paul Gigot kept delaying publication, saying “it needed work.”
Soon after, Bret Stephens — a Pulitzer Prize-winner — and Bari Weiss left the WSJ for the New York Times. Robert Messenger went to The Weekly Standard and Sohrab Ahmari took a post with Commentary. Mark Lasswell did not necessarily leave the WSJ as he was on book leave, but according to Esquire, he “was told not to return from” it. Even so, as New York‘s Jonathan Chait points out, Rupert Murdoch’s conservative paper “has continued to voice occasional criticisms of the president” — albeit “gentle” ones.