There’s a lovely excerpt from Sarah Ellison’s forthcoming book–War at the Wall Street Journal–on the Vanity Fair website. It details how Marcus Brauchli awkwardly tried to work with Rupert Murdoch and how Robert Thomson, an old friend, replaced him.
Just as Mr. Murdoch was taking over, it was Mr. Thomson who told Mr. Brauchli he should ask for a big salary. When Mr. Brauchli took over the editing duties, it was Mr. Thomson who warned him that Mr. Murdoch had an obsession with beating the Times. When Mr. Brauchli found out he was being removed, Mr. Thomson said he would be taken care of financially (to the tune of $6.4 million). The day that Mr. Brauchli found out he was being pushed out, he grabbed a drink with Mr. Thomson:
That night, Brauchli and Thomson, who had become friendly as young reporters in Asia, went out for a drink at Moran’s Irish bar, a nearby newsroom watering hole. “This makes no sense,” Brauchli said. He had been making changes to the paper, doing much of what he thought Murdoch wanted. But Thomson knew his boss too well. “The precipitating fact is the change in ownership,” he said. “It’s obvious.”
It’s an intriguing relationship.
Back in 2007, when it was becoming an inevitiability that the two were going to wind up working together, we wrote a story about what the two friends/rivals looked like in Tokyo in the late 80s and early 90s (Mr. Brauchli worked for The Journal, Mr. Thomson for the Financial Times).
In any event, the guy with the skinny ties won, and Mr. Brauchli would take over The Washington Post.
The excerpt also has a fantastic look at Mr. Murdoch’s day when the world found out that Marcus Brauchli was being pushed out. Ms. Ellison just happened to be traveling with Mr. Murdoch at the time.