Murdoch Closer to Acquiring Dow Jones

The NYT’s 3,900-word investigation of Rupert Murdoch lands

with a thud this morning, and there’s really nothing there. HuffPo would

have it that the "NYT

Savages Murdoch"; if so, then, as Dennis Healy once said, this is like

being savaged by a dead sheep. There’s certainly nothing in the article to derail

Murdoch’s deal to buy Dow Jones, which seems to have taken one

step back and two steps forward over the course of the weekend.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Ken Auletta has 7,375

words on Murdoch and Dow Jones in the latest New Yorker. He’s clearly skeptical

that Murdoch will be able to keep himself out of interfering with the Journal’s

editorial affairs:

In 1995, I spent several months reporting for a Profile of Murdoch for The

New Yorker. During ten days in his offices, I attended meetings, witnessed

negotiations, listened to his phone calls, and conducted about twenty hours

of taped interviews with him. At least a couple of times each day, he talked

on the phone with an editor in order to suggest a story based on something

that he’d heard. This prompted me to ask, “Of all the things in

your business empire, what gives you the most pleasure?”

“Being involved with the editor of a paper in a day-to-day campaign,”

he answered instantly. “Trying to influence people.”

On the other hand, he points out that even the New York Times isn’t immune

from the influence of its owner:

“It’s in choosing editors that Arthur [Sulzberger] gets what

he wants,” observed Daniel Okrent, who was the Times’ first Public

Editor. “And not just the executive editor, Bill Keller. I don’t

think Keller would pick, say, a foreign editor that Arthur did not approve

of. Also, any executive editor of the New York Times knows that among the

things Arthur cares about most are race and gender equality.”

It looks very likely that we’ll see for ourselves just how hands-on Murdoch

will be as an owner of the WSJ. Certainly there seems to be a good chance that

he would make free, which would be a wonderful move.

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