As the Journal prepares to roll out its New York local edition, New York takes a moment to examine “raging septuagenarian” Rupert Murdoch and his Times-killing fantasies (“Ahab-like,” writes Gabriel Sherman).
The upshot? This is not about dollars:
At a time when a national audience is the one coveted by most advertisers–and when local news is less profitable than ever–it seems a quixotic business proposition, at best. But this assault has very little to do with business. “He’ll be completely irrational about spending,” a person close to the company says. “It’s a spear-thrust right at the Times, intended to embarrass and bleed the Times,” a senior Journal editor explained. If anyone doubted the New York section’s centrality to the Journal‘s mission, Thomson seated the metro desk right near his office at the front of the newsroom. “The idea of the New York Times as a burning, sinking ship is something they fantasize about at night,” says the senior Journal editor.
But The Times needn’t feel bad; it is far from the only object of Murdoch’s wrath. There’s also Google!
Murdoch has a particular animus against Google. He believes the search giant is stealing his content while wrapping itself in that familiar cloak, albeit one with New Age-y Silicon Valley stylings: “Don’t be evil.” Much as he has done in the newspaper wars he’s fought over the last 60 years, he wants to turn the tables, call Google’s moral authority into question.
Print, digital–he’s sort of an equal-opportunity raging septuagenarian.