Wall Street Journal Fights Back Over Criticism For Letting Justice Alito Scoop Hit Piece Targeting Him

The Wall Street Journal has rejected criticisms for allowing Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito scoop a ProPublica attack piece that targeted him.

ProPublica is fighting the right-leaning Supreme Court justices and published an article accusing Alito on Tuesday of ethical and legal violations for failing to disclose a “luxury fishing trip” he took in 2008

Alito scooped this story by responding preemptively to the accusations in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, explaining in great detail why they are not valid.

Alito’s refusal to answer ProPublica without first giving him his answers prompted a backlash against The Wall Street Journal. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic Senator from Rhode Island, for instance suggested that Alito had “cooked up” his “weird” pre-rebuttal with the help of a public relations firm. Politico accused Alito, ad nauseum, of picking a fight with ProPublica.

What was the response of The Wall Street Journal?
The newspaper justified its actions, claiming that Alito wouldn’t have gotten a fair shake on the pages of ProPublica.

Editors also responded to criticism from the media, highlighting irony in the media’s one-sided defence of ProPublica

What did ProPublica have to say?

Stephen Engelberg, the editor-in-chief of the outlet, expressed his dismay over Alito’s choice and how The Wall Street Journal framed his essay.

We were surprised that Justice Alito answered our questions as part of an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal. However, we are happy to receive a response.

We are curious if The Journal fact checked the essay prior to publication. The headline “ProPublica misleads its readers” is a statement we reject. It was made without any reader having read the article or asking our opinion.

It’s true that ProPublica has misled readers.

ProPublica failed to mention that, as constitutional law scholar Josh Blackman noted, the Judicial Conference had changed its disclosure rules this year so that federal judges must disclose their private jet trips.

In the 73rd sentence of the ProPublica article, there was an interesting fact that contradicted the entire premise of this accusation.

The reason is that Federal Appeals Court judge Ray Rudolph who went on a fishing trip in 2008 and another one in 2005 once asked the Judicial Conference if he had to disclose his trips. The group said that he didn’t. Rudolph provided ProPublica his own personal notes about the investigation.