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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What liberal media?

Rupert Murdoch, the leading conservative media mogul in the world, wants to get bigger (and no doubt badder).

Murdoch wants to add Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, to an empire that already include the Fox News Channel and the Weekly Standard, two of the most right-leaning news organizations in America.

Fox, as you know, is headed by former Nixon and Bush Senior adviser Roger Ailes. The Standard is edited by William Kristol, son of one of the founder of the neo-conservative movement and the man who served as Dan Quayle's brain.

Murdoch's unsolicited bid adds yet another element of uncertainty to the newspaper world rocked by declining circulation and advertising revenues -- not to mention standards. The move is in many ways similar to pressures that led to the sale of the Tribune Company to Chicago real estate tycoon Sam Zell -- and the steady downsizing of the Globe by its parent, the New York Times Co.

The initial word is the Bancroft family, which owns Dow Jones in a structure similar to the by which the Sulzbergers own the Times, oppose Murdoch's bid.

But time -- and cash -- have a way of changing the equation, as Time Magazine's David von Drehle notes.

Leave aside the Journal's Neanderthal editorial page, and you are talking about one of the best -- and least ideological -- news gathering operations in the country. The implications of consolidation within the Murdoch empire are terrifying.

Further consolidation of media holdings would continue the drive the profit over quality debate, chronicled by Ben Bagdikian, further toward the profit side. It would also graphically represent the largest rightward slide yet of the media as shown by Eric Alterman.

As Dan Rather once said: Courage.

UPDATE: Need more proof that this is not liberal paranoia?
"For years, he has coveted The Wall Street Journal. He has made no secret of the fact that he would like to own it," said Kenneth Chandler, former editor of the Boston Herald, once owned by Murdoch. "From a political viewpoint, it would be a strong counterweight to The New York Times as a national political force in this country."

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