Sad news: The Wall Street Journal’s John Wilke has died at age 54.

John Wilke worked at the Journal for two decades, and did some of the best reporting on how business and politics merge in unhealthy ways.

My own connection to him was tangential but memorable. In the 1990s, when I was writing about technology and business, and raising a continual stink about the predatory ways of Microsoft, the Journal seemed disgracefully in the tank for the software company and its lawbreaking leaders. (I don’t think they actually were in the tank; my guess is that they fell victim to the syndrome that often leads reporters to unwittingly go too easy on the people they cover, for fear of losing access.)

Then came the federal antitrust lawsuit, and Wilke — the Washington reporter who covered antitrust — eagerly jumped into the fray.

The more he read the documents available in the case (which were also available to the Journal’s Microsoft reporters in Seattle), he told me one day on the phone, the more excited he got at the amazing story he was covering. He couldn’t believe the stuff the company had been doing, and he wrote by far the Journal’s best coverage of the company and its behavior.

This wasn’t the only excellent work he did by any means. His tenacity and talent were well-known, and will be much missed.

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