Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Murdoch’s Cuckoo’s Nest



The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page is the ideological headwaters for far-right fanaticism in the US. It is less of a forum for open debate than it is a breeding ground for noxious ideas that undermine democratic institutions. Every day, there’s a whole new slate of extremist opinion pieces defending one absurdity or another. Typically, the articles focus on the two issues of primary importance to all conservatives; war and taxes. It’s astonishing how many variations there are on the same hackneyed theme.

Conservatives are naturally distrustful of ideas, so they’ve created a platform where they can couch their reactionary views in academic-sounding jargon without any real attempt at upgrading social policy. There appears to be an endless reservoir of Reagan-era “supply side” zealots and think-tank windbags who are more than eager to promote the topic-du jour, whatever that may be. By using right wing celebrities as their standard-bearers, the WSJ is able to elevate the most mundane, nonsensical arguments to a level of respectability. And that’s the objective—to make hard-nosed, narrow-minded chauvinism look like enlightened policy.

Typically, the editorials take aim at any regulation which restricts industry or any law which protects the citizen. Articles are chosen on the basis of how they appeal to a small group of corporate mandarins whose views about “how the world should be organized” are nearly identical. In other words, it is an “echo chamber” for the investor class. That’s why liberals should pay attention. The men who currently run the world are not shy about revealing what they have in mind for the rest of us. Isn’t it worth the price of a subscription to find out what that is?

In the last few days the WSJ has run articles defending Exxon against the $2.5 billion punitive damages that were ordered by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for its massive oil spill in Alaska nearly 2 decades ago. They’ve run another tiresome apology for Judge Robert Bork, the alleged victim of a left-wing witch hunt. They’ve provided a lawyerly defense of the Marines who went on the “killing spree” in Haditha; another promotion for the extortionist World Bank, an emotional plea to “Save the Bush Tax Cuts”, and, of course, an over-the-top 1500 word thesis on why “Victory Is Within Reach In Iraq” by neocon nutcase Michael Ledeen.

On Monday, October 22, the WSJ ran an article by David Rivkin, “Getting Serious about Torture”, which essentially defends the “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment of terror suspects by pointing out the relative nature of these terms. (Isn’t it odd that questions related to torture never came up before Bush took office?)

As Rivkin says, “The words cruel, inhuman and degrading, whether or nor a particular interrogation method shocks the conscience depends very much on the circumstances.”

Sure, David, it’s all relative, isn’t it? How about “eye gouging”; is that okay, too?

Remember when conservatives used to rail against “moral relativism”? At the time, it seemed like a matter of principle. Now we can see that it was just empty posturing.

At the end of his article Rivkin reminds us that, “There is no free lunch. Coercive interrogations have been key in preventing post 9-11 attacks on American soil.”

Indeed. Sounds like a pretty spirited defense of torture to me. Am I missing something?

No theory is too whacky or obscene for the WSJ’s editorial page as long as it conforms to the far right mind-set of its readership. For just one dollar, anyone can take a seat in the enemy’s camp and listen in. Sounds like a bargain to me.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at:



MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future