WSJ Now Inside Paulson’s Brain

The Journal has seemingly been channeling Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson for months now. Today’s story is so confident you know it knows what he’s thinking that it just goes ahead and dispenses with sourcing.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is debating whether to ask Congress for the second installment of the $700 billion bailout package, concerned about competing demands for the funds and a potentially hostile reaction from lawmakers…

Besides lawmakers threatening to deny a request for the additional money, Mr. Paulson is also grappling with confusion stemming from the transition to a new administration.

If Mr. Paulson decides to request the next $350 billion, he is expected to do so next week. His hand may ultimately be forced if market conditions continue to deteriorate.

Political and practical concerns also color the debate. While Mr. Paulson wants to steer more funds to financial institutions, Congress has its own ideas, including aid for the auto industry and troubled homeowners — two ideas Mr. Paulson has resisted.

The paper is taking the Voice of God thing a bit too far. A little “person familiar with his thinking” never did anyone any harm.

And this kind of thing seems to show that the paper is a bit too cozy with Paulson. Certainly, others have written more skeptically about him, though the Journal is hardly alone in its solicitude.

It might be a good time for a story on Paulson’s tenure at Goldman and how what he’s saying now conflicts with what he did then. That would put some needed distance between the paper and the government and make it a little less Herman’s Head.

What’s going on with the sourcing over there?

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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 Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.