Media Grab Bag: Murdoch Takes The Journal, Journalism World Shrugs; Hypocrisy at CNN Over Hilton?
Now that media mogul Rupert Murdoch has cleared yet another hurdle in his quest to own the world's premiere business newspaper, the question looms: What will he do with the Wall Street Journal once he has it?
For months now, columnists and reporters have mined an impressive array of tales from Murdoch's past to argue that the Aussie-born wonder will likely turn the resources of the journal to serve his own business interest, regardless of ethical concerns. The New York Times in particular has uncorked an impressive catalog of Murdoch's sins, from forcing his news outlets to kowtow to Chinese officials as part of a strategy to further his business prospects there, to using reporters from his newspapers to investigate business rivals while claiming they were pursuing stories.
Standing against this decades-long record of manipulation, dishonesty and editorial involvement, are two things: Whatever structure the current owners of parent company Dow Jones can cobble together to protect the Journal from editorial meddling -- likely a board with the power to hire and fire top editors, instead of Murdoch -- and the mogul's value of the newspapers biggest asset, it's credibility.
In essence, Murdoch is buying the Wall Street Journal brand; a symbol of quality in business news and information, precisely because it has remained an independent voice. It wouldn't do Murdoch much good to plunk down $5-billion for Dow Jones if he ruined its reputation by curbing reporting efforts or pushing the paper to pursue his enemies. Or so the thinking goes.
Nice, logical thinking -- which is utterly inconsistent with Murdoch's long history as a controlling power broker willing to cross ethical lines with impunity to pursue specific business objectives. (See here for the New York Times' response to News Corp's odd assertion that the Times was pursuing its own business objectives by presenting a thorough look at Murdoch's world conquering tactics.)
Perhaps that's why watching this deal go down feels more and more like watching an antelope taken down by a lion on a National Geographic special. Yeah, it's the law of nature. But that doesn't mean we have to like it. (Editor and Publisher has a cool story here on how the editorial indepedence strictures requested by current Dow jones owners to curb Murdoch's powers probably won't work)
SPTimes Alum Jo Becker Lands A1 Stories in Washington Post and NYT
Read about it here. Gives me hope.
CNN Hypocrisy in Hilton Interview?
I know: tonight's Larry King interview with Paris Hilton is a rare chance for the increasingly out-of-it host to compete against the Fox News juggernaut in prime time. Still, it would seem such Hilton fixation runs against the newschannel's own stance at moderating coverage -- it has even sparked calls for a boycott off tonight's talk -- and CNN president Jon Klein's own past statements.
Consider these past Klein quotes (provided by a helpful tipster):
New York Times, June 26, 2006
“Our gimmick is news.”
New York Times, February 13, 2006
“Any of us can do the quick fix…it’s a deal with the devil. You confuse your identity to the audience.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 30, 2005
“Our stock and trade is our authority, experience, trustworthiness and objectivity. Those qualities develop over time, and you'd be shooting yourself in the foot to simply go for youth and looks at the expense of ability.”
New York Times, September 12, 2005
“There are an awful lot of things you can cover if you don’t have people tied up with this meaningless nonsense...Cable news has to stop ‘obsessing over this trivial stuff’’.
Fave YouTube Moment: Elizabeth Edwards Tears Ann Coulter a New One
What I like most about this exchange is that Coulter, in trying to drown out Edwards' plea that she lay off the personal insults, basically admits she would have no newspaper columns or books if she stopped insulting people.