Monday, June 25, 2007

Murdoch Successfully Intimidates The New York Times? Maybe Not

As promised, today The New York Times goes after Rupert Murdoch in a 6-page exposé. Unfortunately, it's not the big bombshell some of us had hoped for - apparently because the Times lawyers had a field day with it. But there could be more to come:
The Drudge Report, reported on June 22, based on “insider” knowledge, that the forthcoming piece was an “AGGRESSIVE' EXAMINATION ON MURDOCH, HIS ASIAN WIFE, AND ATTEMPTS TO EXPAND HIS MEDIA EMPIRE...”

However, neither Mr. Murdoch’s wife Wendi Deng, nor or his business interests in China, made it into today’s 3,800-word piece. And Mr. Kahn, who multiple sources informed The Observer was looking into Murdoch, was not listed among the contributing reporters.

“I've written a piece on Murdoch in China that should appear shortly,” Mr. Kahn told The Observer, via email.

So, apparently, The Times isn’t done with Murdoch just yet.
The New Yorker also has a piece out today(even longer), and Slate has a review of the blogosphere's early reactions to both. The Gawker has this to say:
The Times article is serviceable but no more; we can't understand why the organization expended so many resources for such a meager result.
That's probably a bit harsh: there are lots of juicy details in the NYT piece, and surely something new for nearly every reader to savour. Here's a taste from The Times:
His vast media holdings give him a gamut of tools — not just campaign contributions, but also jobs for former government officials and media exposure that promotes allies while attacking adversaries, sometimes viciously — all of which he has used to further his financial interests and establish his legitimacy in the United States, interviews and government records show...

From his beginnings as a proprietor of a single Australian newspaper, Mr. Murdoch now commands a news, entertainment and Internet enterprise whose $68 billion value slightly exceeds that of the Walt Disney Company.

The American newspaper industry has never seen a publisher quite like him. Mr. Murdoch has long been a pivotal figure in England and Australia, and in the dozen years since he has moved his base of operations to this country, he has insinuated himself into the political and financial fabric of the United States. His businesses have thrived in a highly regulated environment in part because of his remarkable ability to mold the rules to fit his needs...

Mr. Murdoch has an army of outside lobbyists, who have reported being paid more than $11 million since 1998 to address issues as diverse as trade relations, programming decency and Internet regulation.

One firm focuses almost exclusively on parts of the tax code that affect the News Corporation. By taking advantage of a provision in the law that allows expanding companies like Mr. Murdoch’s to defer taxes to future years, the News Corporation paid no federal taxes in two of the last four years, and in the other two it paid only a fraction of what it otherwise would have owed. During that time, Securities and Exchange Commission records show, the News Corporation’s domestic pretax profits topped $9.4 billion.

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