But I really object to the Journal’s editorialists calling into question—by name—the motives behind The New York Times and The Financial Times for their coverage of the News Corp. story.
Some of these voices, however, are commercial or ideological competitors who have their own interest in undermining the Journal’s credibility. Both the New York Times and the Financial Times have been especially aggressive in assailing the potential News Corp. purchase of the Journal. These also happen to be the two publications that Mr. Murdoch has explicitly said he might invest more to compete against. Readers can judge if the tears these papers and their writers claim to shed for the Journal’s future are real, or of the crocodile variety.
The nastiest attacks have come from our friends on the political left. They can’t decide whose views they hate most — ours, or Mr. Murdoch’s.
First, this slander has nothing to do with the FT, which did little that was particularly critical of anybody. What is it supposed to do, ignore the story?
No, this was all about the Times. It did a superb job, in fact. But whatever the Journal’s editorial page thought of the coverage, does it really think Joseph Kahn, the Times’s superb Asia hand, exposed News Corp.’s timely payments to the relatives of Chinese political officials, and reporters Jo Becker, Richard Siklos, Jane Perlez, and Raymond Bonner revealed its timely book contracts for U.S. congressmen, because they and their bosses were concerned about competition from a Murdoch-owned Journal?
The only other party to take the debate to that level was—who else?—News Corp., which declined to comment for the Times series by saying this:
News Corp. has consistently cooperated with The New York Times in its coverage of the company. However, the agenda for this unprecedented series is so blatantly designed to further the Times’s commercial self interests — by undermining a direct competitor poised to become an even more formidable competitor — that it would be reckless of us to participate in their malicious assault. Ironically, The Times, by using its news pages to advance its own corporate business agenda, is doing the precise thing they accuse us of doing without any evidence.
That’s not argument. I’m not sure I have a name for it.
But okay. You want ulterior motives? Here’s one:
Paul Gigot, editor of the Journal’s editorial page, gets a guaranteed job as a result of the News Corp. deal. Gigot now has more job security than the Lubovitcher Rebbe or a mid-level clerk at the DMV.
Come to think of it, Gigot has a lot more job security than I do. But then we believe in accountability up here at Columbia—free markets, free people. That’s us.
The editorial page is supposed to reflect the thinking of Gordon Crovitz, the paper’s publisher, who is $5 million richer as a result of the News Corp. deal.
Point is, lay off the motives nonsense. There’s no basis for it, and it’s not right. Senior Journal editors have a lot of nerve.
The editorial staff and publisher, while not calculating the value of their DJ options now enhanced by the News Corp. offer, might consider that some of us critics might be critical not for commercial motives or ideological ones (I’m not sure how the logic works in any case; liberals want an independent Dow Jones because they hate what, exactly?).
No, they might consider that some of us were critical for the same reason that Tunku Varadarajan,—their own deputy editorial features editor—was critical a few years ago.
What does one make of the Murdoch position on China? In my view, it is a form of corporate prostitution…But China is run by sophisticated tyrants. They see the use of people like Messrs. Murdoch—père et fils—and will use them. They are not taken in by the flattery, the unctuousness, the bowing of the corporate knee. They are not unduly impressed by the Murdoch attempts to be more Catholic than the pope when it comes to China. They know that he wants to make more money in China and that he is willing to pay any price to do so.
We think the News Corp.-owned Journal will be bad for journalism. That’s the thing we’re all supposed to be in favor of, right?
If we’re supposed to be reassured that the WSJ will remain uncorrupted by News Corp. values, we’re off to a bad start.