Bloggers are fretting over the future of the Wall Street Journal. They're not at all surprised by Dick Cheney's secret role in the Bush administration's war on terror and take notice of a new TV channel on the horizon.
Mogul mania: Rupert Murdoch's on-again, off-again bid to buy Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal's parent company, is on again. Today, both the New York Times and The New Yorker offer hefty profiles of the media mogul, and Gawker graciously provides a handy guide for choosing which one to read.
MediaBistro's fishbowlNY is not impressed by the paper of record. "The much-anticipated Times investigation of Rupert Murdoch is out. A day late — it was originally supposed to appear on Sunday, June 24 — apparently because the Times lawyers had a field day with it. Unfortunately, there's really nothing didn't know about Rupe before. No juicy exposés, no Wendi Deng scandals, no frightening influence-peddling, none of that. Just 3,900 words on an old-fashioned Hearst-ian mogul."
"The New York Times seems finally to have found an immigrant they don't like: Rupert Murdoch," snipes Apollo Morgan at Snarky Bastards. "Conveniently enough, he's also a competitor. For all of its hushed tones of hinted nefariousness, I can't really find anything in this tome that makes me think ill of Mr. Murdoch. … At the very least, one can say of Mr. Murdoch's politics that they have not gotten in the way of his and shareholders' business interests. One cannot say the same of Pinch Sulzberger" at the Times.
Speaking of shareholders, Paul R. LaMonica at Media Biz (on CNNMoney.com) observes, "The fact that the board, and not the Bancrofts, are now handling talks is a clear sign that they realize they have to keep their investors' interest in mind. And they must see the writing on the wall. There has been constant speculation about white knights stepping in to save Dow Jones from Murdoch but all have walked away after realizing that the price is just too steep."
So, what's at stake here? Just a little thing known as journalistic independence. Adam Howard at AlterNet explains, "We all know the Wall Street Journal's editorial pages are often filled with more conservative tripe than six Dennis Hasterts, but the actual news and reporting in the rest of the paper has been unassaillably non partisan for years." Arlen Parsa of The Daily Background spells it out: "You might not think it matters since the WSJ is already conservative, but make no mistake, this is a Bad Thingtm. The Wall Street Journal is reliably conservative editorially, but their news division is quite serious and good quality– think PBS but in print format. ... As I can remember one editorial-side WSJ employee saying once, 'we can't even go out to lunch with the news staff, they're so liberal.' "
Salon co-founder Scott Rosenberg has a unique free-market take on the deal at his blog, Wordyard: "[I]f the Journal's grand newsroom tradition falls victim to a corporate acquisition, I can't help feeling … that the fate is fitting. The Journal — its news pages as well as its editorial pages — is the daily bible of global capitalism, encompassing all of that term's positives and negatives. It is a chronicle of the power of markets to reshape institutions. How could it expect to be exempt itself?"
Cheney fatigue? A Washington Post series detailing Vice President Dick Cheney's "largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies for the War on Terror, the economy and the environment" set off the mandatory flurry of righteous indignation, but surprisingly, bloggers' hearts really weren't in it.
Susie at Suburban Guerilla provides a capsule summary that captures the tone of many bloggers: "Nothing we didn't suspect, but boy, he sure is consistent." Joe Sudbay at Americablog sighs, "As bad as many of us thought Cheney was and is -- he's worse."
Susan Daniels is a former Slate staffer. She lives in Amsterdam.