Tuesday, July 31, 2007

*WHEW* That Was Close!

We can all breathe just a little bit easier now:
Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has admitted it is now "highly unlikely" it will proceed with its $5bn (£2.5bn) offer for the Dow Jones media group.

It said this was because of the reported present level of opposition from the Bancroft family, which owns 64% of Dow Jones' voting shares.

With the Bancrofts expected to make a statement later on Tuesday, reports say less than a third are backing the deal.
The board of directors, which presumably has many of the Bancrofts on it, did OK the deal last week, but the Bancrofts themselves clearly had issues with Rupert Murdoch's overbearing presences in his other holdings.

It's hard to describe how sensible people feel about Rupert Murdoch. He's not precisely beloved in most circles (save for the low-normals in the Republican party), and is viewed as a sort of "necessary evil" wherever he goes, not because he can actually contribute anything to anybody or any organization, but simply because he buys ink by the barrel. You can't really ignore him and to challenge him is to risk taking any shred of privacy and decency off in public.

He's not known as someone who is a gracious loser, in other words.

The Wall Street Journal is not exactly a bastion of left-wing rabble rousing. It's editorial board sits somewhere to the right of Augusto Pinochet, the brutal former dictator of Chile, and it's hatred of anything smacking of any government control is legend.

Except of course when said government intervention saves its own bacon or covers its losses (not directly, of course).

The reporting in the news pages, however, is stellar, and something the Bancrofts can rightly be proud of. That coverage, quite objective and therefore quite "liberal", has its skirts covered by the savage reactionarism of the editors, who would probably like nothing less than to bring back child labor...after all, those kids are spending their worthless lives sitting idle in classes, learning, while they could be out there earning money for their corporate overlords!

While they may not agree with the stories they edit, they can smell a money maker a mile away, and the Journal can point with pride to the stories they cover and how they cover them. If the Journal was a newspaper as opposed to a business periodical, and invested money in the reporting staff and their resources, the WSJ could easily wrest the "paper of record" mantle from the New York Times.

And it's this that worried me most about the Murdoch take-over attempt. See, he'd rebrand some Fox channel as a "business channel in the tradition of the Wall Street Journal," and I'd be OK with that. After all, Beatle tunes are being used to sell diapers now and that's what sells now, is the brand. I accept that.

What I don't accept is, well, look, you can hear "All You Needs Is Luvs" and while you may momentarily lose your lunch over it, you can dust off Magical Mystery Tour and play the B side, and reaffirm your belief in all things Beatles.

Unfortunately, in the news business, old news is bad news and it's pointless to try to dig up an old Wall Street Journal and reminisce over the way they handled the terror attacks on 9/11. You'd want to read a current Journal and experience their top-notch journalism on a fresh story.

And if you need further proof of the Journal's reportage, Daniel Pearl was working for them when he was kidnapped and killed.

Which puts him about three million percent higher on the totem pole than the people who read only the editorials, then repeat them near-verbatim on right-wing blogs using Cheeto-stained keyboards, sitting in Mom's basement.

So you can exhale now. While the Journal's future is uncertain, it's not destined for Page Six treatment.

UPDATE: Sadly, I didn't bite when they stuffed the moosecock in my mouth, so I swallowed this story whole. I should have, could have, known better. The deal was practically done late last week, but my hopeful heart and firm faith in the better nature of humanity did me in to believing that Murdoch would be repudiated.

Silly me. Mea culpa, gentle reader. I try hard to be cynical. I let my heart get ahead of the facts here.

Murdoch, it appears, will own the Wall Street Journal. I shall now mourn.