Meanwhile, the Murdoch properties in American journalism have continually reaffirmed their commitment to sensationalism, extremism, political bias and protection of the boss. As one of his employees explained in an unwitting moment on videotape, Murdoch journalism can be “a little bit like the Mafia.” (The employee was terminated with extreme prejudice after those remarks were made public.)
What makes The Wall Street Journal so valuable to its readers and to American culture is the excellence of its news columns—and their unpredictability. Unlike the Murdoch empire, The Journal’s news bureaus are strictly separated from the editorial section, whose medieval outlook is nearly identical to that of the would-be owner. Very often, straight reporting in the news section briskly disproves the fantasies of the editorial pages, notably during the latter’s long obsession with the supposed scandals of Whitewater.
Under Mr. Murdoch, that legacy of superb reporting and editorial separation would die. As Andrew Neil, a former editor of the London Sunday Times recently explained in The Journal’s own pages: “I think he would want the news to be informed by the editorial agenda.”
So let’s hope the Bancroft family, whose preferred Dow Jones stock makes them the trustees of The Journal’s integrity, resists the temptation to cash out. Or if they succumb, let them not pretend that the “necessary promises” mean anything beyond $60 a share.
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