Monday, July 18, 2011

Crybabies at the Journal Editorial Page

News of the Weird, Let Alone the World

Much has been written about the bizarro, those-who-live-in-glass-houses-shouldn't-throw-stones editorial in today's Wall Street Journal that gets all righteous on the anti-Murdoch minions over the News Corp. hacking scandal.
Suffice to say, all the WTF comments from the likes of Jay Rosen, Staci Kramer and Keith Olbermann are predictable if justified.
The editorial is weird, even by WSJ standards. Sure, it's nice to stand up for the old man and his company who issue your paychecks. But the grapes peeled on page A12 aren't sour; they're putrid rounds of multi-colored mold.
To wit:

In braying for politicians to take down Mr. Murdoch and News Corp., our media colleagues might also stop to ask about possible precedents. The political mob has been quick to call for a criminal probe into whether News Corp. executives violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act with payments to British security or government officials in return for information used in news stories. Attorney General Eric Holder quickly obliged last week, without so much as a fare-thee-well to the First Amendment.

Of course, it's the Journal, so the "political mob" is code for Democrats, though Journal fave Peter King has also whispered about the need to check out whether News Corp. was hacking phones of 9/11 victims.
Fare-thee-will to the First Amendment? Please. The problem isn't just what was written. It's with how that information was obtained. And even, as the editorial suggests, the "foreign-bribery law has historically been enforced against companies attempting to obtain or retain government business," so what?
There's nothing wrong with prosecutors getting creative to prosecute a felony so long as they have the law on their side. This has nothing to do with the First Amendment. This priggish self-righteousness is beyond the pale, even for the Journal editorialists, who make one last gasp in saying:

Applying this standard to British tabloids could turn payments made as part of traditional news-gathering into criminal acts. The Wall Street Journal doesn't pay sources for information, but the practice is common elsewhere in the press, including in the U.S.

No sale. And that's what this is about anyway. If journalists want to engage in checkbook journalism, that's their business, however sordid it might be. That's not forbidden. But if that information is illegally obtained, then it's go time in the criminal docket. It's all too easy to wonder whether the Journal would get as uppity if the name in the spotlight was Sulzberger instead of Murdoch. All too easy indeed.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

News Of The World Demise Proof the Old Man Has Mellowed

Murdoch Puts His Prized Tab in Dry Dock

Wow. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Destroying the village in order to save it. Find your analogy, and somehow it'll fit with word that News International will shutter the News of the World tab after a sordid run of 168 years.
Never mind that the Sunday paper is the largest-selling English-language newspaper in the world. Rupert Murdoch--through his surrogate, son James--simply had enough after the phone-hacking scandal that threatened to blow back on his media empire big-time. James Murdoch wrote in a letter to staff that was published on NoW's website:

So, just as I acknowledge we have made mistakes, I hope you and everyone inside and outside the Company will acknowledge that we are doing our utmost to fix them, atone for them, and make sure they never happen again.

Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper.

This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World.

And to show the Murdochs are horribly, truly contrite, all profits from this weekend's final edition will go to "good causes.'

Any advertising space in this last edition will be donated to causes and charities that wish to expose their good works to our millions of readers.

These are strong measures. They are made humbly and out of respect. I am convinced they are the right thing to do.

You have to think that a younger Rupert Murdoch would've flipped the British establishment the bird if he he had found himself in a similar situation. But this is the 80-year-old version, worried about legacies, ignominy and, oh yes, stock prices.
Still, wow.
This was an immensely profitable paper, with a 2.6 million circulation, to boot. But fear not, Britons: your weekend dose of filth will not disappear entirely. The Guardian reports The Sun, the nation's leading daily tabloid distinguished by its buxom--and always topless--Page 3 girls, is readying for a Sunday launch.
It'll soon be safe to gag on your Weetabix again while having your morning coffee.

Pirate's Booty

You Knew Johnny Depp Was Good, But This Good?

Caught up a bit belatedly to this item from the wrap that Johnny Depp may have reaped as much as $360 million from playing Jack Sparrow in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise. Of course, Disney's pooh-poohing that sum, and it may actually be a tad smaller.

Still, that's a lot of galleons. The funny part: it may actually be chump change, given that the movies have plundered $3.7 billion from the box office alone. That's right, that munificent sum doesn't include DVDs or merchandising.

So, if you see Bob Iger walking around the office with an eyepatch, a bottle of rum and bellowing "Avast, ye maties," for no particular reason, you can forego the call to the funny farm.

And if you think Depp is flush with doubloons now, just wait: The Wrap also reports he's in negotiations for a fifth Sparrow go-around.