Audit Notes: scoops and leaks, CNBC hardball, FT on Dow Jones CEO

The WSJ sniffs at a USA Today exclusive on Obama's immigration plan

It’s totally a shoe-leather scoop when you get the story. It’s a “leak” when somebody else does.

That’s what The Wall Street Journal does with a USA Today report on the president’s immigration plan— a report on a report that led the other day:

New details of a White House immigration plan have been released, upsetting Senate Republicans working on a bipartisan bill and threatening to complicate the delicate legislative process now under way…

But on Saturday, USA Today reported new details of the fallback legislation the White House is preparing, including details of an eight-year path for the 11 million people who are in the country illegally to qualify for citizenship and a four-year transition period for employers to implement systems to verify the legal status of new hires.

The new details, which were confirmed by a person familiar with the legislation, weren’t surprising or particularly controversial, people from both parties said Sunday, and the major differences between the White House and Senate approaches were already well known.

Gah. First the WSJ calls it a “leak” and then it acts like it’s so non-newsworthy that it wouldn’t have deigned to report it.

This at a paper that has elevated scoops above all else.

— Politico’s Dylan Byers reports on how CNBC tries to block its guests from appearing on rival networks:

In interviews with POLITICO, current and former CNBC guests, including financial executives from major American companies, said that they had to decline booking requests from rival networks, including Bloomberg TV and Fox Business, due to “CNBC rules.” Some said their appearance on a rival network had resulted in CNBC cancelling a previously scheduled booking.

“CNBC always wants to be first, so they will insist on having the first interview or they will not cover you,” one financial services executive told POLITICO. “That’s true even if it’s a day later on a totally different topic. It’s juvenile.”

“If they see you on a competing channel they won’t invite you back for a week or so,” said one source who was formerly a regular guest on CNBC. “They’ll call and ask if you’ve been on another network. If you say, ‘Yes,’ then they won’t invite you. If you say, ‘No,’ they’ll book you and ask you to hold a time. But then they might cancel the booking at the last minute. I don’t know of any other channel that does this.”

Rise Above
, CNBC. Rise Above.

— I don’t really understand the point of this FT mini-profile of Lex Fenwick, the CEO of Dow Jones, but it does pull a good quote out of him:

The company is juggling the demands of newswire customers and those of online readers who increasingly expect similarly instantaneous information, but will continue to favour those paying a premium, releasing news on its wire about two minutes before it hits “The time difference is worth something but that time difference is getting smaller as the world tweets and all this other garbage,” Mr Fenwick says.

Unfortunately, that quote is followed by this one, which means nothing:

“We’re trying to look holistically at our whole company and we’d like to make some more money,” he says, describing Dow Jones as profitable but disclosing no further details.

And there’s no room here for all that stuff about Bloomberg being sued for discrimination with one choice quote of Fenwick’s alleged to have been, “I’m not having any pregnant bitches working for me.” A judge threw out that class-action suit, but Reuters reported that individual women are still going after them.

Actually, do read that Reuters profile, which includes this other gem:

In a meeting with dozens of Dow Jones sales people and senior managers last spring, Fenwick was asked if he would seek customer advice on his changes. “F—- the customer,” Fenwick replied, adding that he only cared about Dow Jones, according to four people who heard, or heard about, the outburst.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,