The Wall Street Journal’s controversial editor-in-chief Gerard Baker—often accused of being too chummy with President Trump—is leaving the newspaper to host a show on the Fox Business Network, arguably the most pro-Trump cable-news outlet.
In a Tuesday press release, Newscorp announced that executive editor Matt Murray would replace Baker, who, in addition to his new FBN gig, would become the paper’s editor at large.
“Gerry has been a very successful editor at a time when journalism has been digitally challenged,” Newscorp chief executive Robert Thompson said. “I have no doubt that Matt is a worthy successor as Editor-in-Chief and will be a leader of the highest commitment and integrity. His strong reporting and editing background and his passion for the Journal are obvious to all who have the privilege of working with him.
The memo also said that Baker would host a new “WSJ-branded news and interview show on Fox Business,” the pro-Trump cable network where he has occasionally appeared as a guest.
The move makes sense considering Journal staffers have reportedly long simmered over Baker’s editorial decisions during the Trump era, grumbling in private about his supposedly favorable views of Trump’s campaign, administration, and the president himself.
And Fox Business Network, which has become the most ardently pro-Trump cable channel this side of Fox News, would provide Baker a platform seemingly more aligned with his editorial choices.
Rumors of Baker’s impending departure had circulated in the newsroom for several months. Coincidentally or not, the shakeup was announced as the Journal’s reporters completed their annual employee-satisfaction surveys, which presumably reflected Baker’s level of newsroom unpopularity.
On the other hand, it was Baker who supported and approved the publication of reporter John Carreyrou’s unmasking of the fraud perpetrated by Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. When the company collapsed as a result, investors lost more than $600 million—notably, more than $100 million of that was lost by Theranos investor Rupert Murdoch.
Last year, Politico obtained a full transcript of Baker’s interview with Trump, revealing how he failed to correct the president’s obvious falsehoods and misstatements. The New York Times further described that presidential chat: “Unusually for an editor in chief, Mr. Baker took a leading role in the interview and made small talk with Mr. Trump about travel and playing golf.
When Ivanka Trump, the president’s older daughter, walked into the Oval Office, Mr. Baker told her, according to the transcript, ‘It was nice to see you out in Southampton a couple weeks ago,” apparently referring to a party that the two had attended.’”
A series of leaked emails that same month showed Baker being protective of how the president’s pivots between calls for “unity” and siding with neo-Nazis were portrayed by the paper, bashing Journal staff for “commentary dressed up as news reporting” in a story about the president. In an all-hands staff meeting, he reportedly told those who dislike his editorial choices to seek employment elsewhere.
“The Journal has done a lot of good work in covering the Trump administration, but not nearly as much as it should have,” one former staffer told The Guardian in 2017. “I lay almost all of that at Gerry’s doorstep.”