Media Furious About ‘Conservative’ Murdoch’s Offer to Buy WSJ

Story after story about Rupert Murdoch’s purchase offer for Dow Jones & Company, which owns The Wall Street Journal, has criticized the prospect as a threat to journalism, questioned the media mogul’s “editorial integrity” and attacked his character.Journalists, media critics and the union representing the Journal were up in arms.

“[P]robably not quite as frightening as the day we learned Kim Jong Il has the bomb, but close … very close. It could be worse. We might have discovered, for example, that Saddam Hussein had stashed all those missing weapons of mass destruction in a Pasadena storage locker rented to Osama bin Laden,” said a Los Angeles Times column.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., went on CNBC’s “Kudlow & Company” on May 1 to voice his opposition and said he will try to block the deal legislatively. Former News Corporation editor Ken Chandler responded:

“There’s more diversity than anybody ever dreamed of. And this is an argument that comes up every time someone on the conservative side wants to do something,” said Chandler.

The Wall Street Journal’s union president, Steve Yount, also condemned the potential deal for what amounted to political reasons:

“Murdoch’s media empire includes the less than ‘fair and balanced’ Fox news channel …”

On June 5, Yount announced that the union was courting “billionaires with integrity” including Warren Buffet and Ron Burkle to make a counter offer to Dow Jones. Both Buffet and Burkle are Democratic supporters and major fundraisers for the party. Buffet will hold a Clinton fundraiser this month, and an Obama fundraiser down the road, according to Bloomberg.The union itself, IAPE Local 1096, is affiliated with the Newspaper Guild Communications Workers of America, which is a part of the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO threw millions into “grass-roots mobilization” to help elect Democrats in 2006.Slate.com, Porfolio.com, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Columbia Journalism Review all criticized Murdoch’s offer.

“On the issue of bias, there is clearly one against Rupert Murdoch,” said Marek Fuchs The Business Press Maven, about the recent coverage.

Journalists who criticized Murdoch’s “ego” downplayed the strategic sense of the bid. Murdoch plans to create a Fox financial channel and owning Dow Jones & Company and The Wall Street Journal dovetail into that quite nicely.Most articles barely mentioned investors who support a Murdoch buyout, and didn’t explain how much shareholders stand to gain. The $5 billion purchase offer increased the value of Dow Jones by roughly $2 billion.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.