And then she offers reporting to show that all of this hasn’t been an accident:

Readers couldn’t see or know that editors were frequently altering stories in subtle ways. Reporters at the paper noticed that quotes criticizing Republicans or praising Obama were cut. Small editing decisions changed the news—as the Journal reported it—every day. Reporters began to sense that top editors were ordering stories to fit a political agenda…

Thomson objected to a story on Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s roles in the housing crisis as “too anti-Republican.” In a news meeting, he once offhandedly commented that the housing crisis was “all the fault of incompetent borrowers.” Political reporters often heard requests for more stories on Republicans. Education reporters were told by their editors to write their stories as if “the most conservative reader in the world” were reading over their shoulder.

I worked at the paper for nearly six years in the pre-Murdoch era. Call me naive, but I never saw a political agenda one way or the other under Paul Steiger, Marcus Brauchli, and Peter Kann. I thought we were the most scrupulously non-partisan paper in the country (for better or for worse). This isn’t to mention the sensationalism that’s now fairly routine in a paper that once was the antithesis of hype.

I don’t know whether Thomson et al. were playing politics with the Kagan photo. Given the backdrop of the is-she-gay? media buzz, the WSJ at best displayed a surprisingly tin ear. But the uncertainty is the problem: you used to be able to take the Journal’s work—good and bad—on good faith.

Now you can’t quite trust The Wall Street Journal like you used to. That’s a damn shame.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.