This morning The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal lifted the veil of impartiality and gleefully went for the jugular.
The day after Rupert Murdoch’s $5 billion Dow Jones bid and the subsequent slap in the face rejection by the Bancroft family (which holds controlling interest), the east coast doyennes of journalism didn’t even bother to hide their disdain.
The Manhattan media club – a small circle – is absolute in their horror at the prospect of a Murdoch-owned Dow Jones & Company.
Both papers thrashed Murdoch’s tabloid style and editorial meddling. The NYT pointed to “tinkering” and named Murdoch as the probable source of the infamously erroneous NY Post headline, “Dem picks Gephardt as VP Candidate.”
Said the NYT, “Mr. Murdoch’s notoriety as the force behind the politically barbed Fox News Channel, the racy Sun in London and the populist New York Post precedes him…”
The biggest zinger in the NYT wasn’t found in the copy, however. The biz section featured a mash-up photo of Murdoch that consumed most of the page – Murdoch standing at a podium, arm extended, his massive face looming in the background. The reference couldn’t be missed - it was straight out of Citizen Kane.
Like the NYT, the WSJ chastised the sensational tone of Murdoch-owned publications and made much of the “hands-on way the mogul runs his newspaper empire.”
Deriding Murdoch’s recent assurances that he would respect the paper’s editorial independence and be a “great guardian” of the publication, the WSJ quoted extensively from the book written by former Times of London (a British daily owned by Murdoch) editor Harold Evans.
Said the WSJ, “Mr. Evans went on to write a vitriolic account of his stint at the Times in which he accused Mr. Murdoch of eroding the Times’ standards and breaking promises he made to maintain the paper’s editorial independence.”
Lest their readers miss the point, the WSJ captured yesterday’s Timesof London front page, making asplash across the top of the WSJ’s Marketplace section. Yesterday’s Times of London racy cover story: “Lie over gay partner ends BP chief’s career.”In the strip above, against a purple background, a headline screams: “Help! My husband is a slob!”
The caption reads: “Rupert Murdoch…faced concerns over quality and independence when he bought the Times of London as he does in his bid for The Wall Street Journal.”
Then, in the NYT, this curious little graf showed up, the very last graf in a very long piece:
“The New York Times Company, which approached Dow Jones with an informal offer several years ago only to be rebuffed, has also been part of what has become a parlor game on Wall Street and within media circles.”