Rupert Murdoch has been busy sullying the Wall Street Journal news department's once impeccable reputation for objectivity. Murdoch made his buddy Robert Thomson the new WSJ editor and made Leslie Hinton the publisher who proceeded to "Fox-ify" the Journal as Joe Nocera described it in his blistering OpEd in the New York Times. Nocera describes the changes at the WSJ like this:
The Journal Becomes Fox-ified.
Within five months, Murdoch had fired the editor and installed his close friend Robert Thomson, fresh from a stint Fox-ifying The Times of London. The new publisher was Leslie Hinton, former boss of the division that published ’s British newspapers, including The News of the World. (He resigned on Friday.) Soon came the changes, swift and sure: shorter articles, less depth, an increased emphasis on politics and, weirdly, sometimes surprisingly unsophisticated coverage of business.
Along with the transformation of a great paper into a mediocre one came a change that was both more subtle and more insidious. The political articles grew more and more slanted toward the Republican party line. The Journal sometimes took to using the word “Democrat” as an adjective instead of a noun, a usage favored by the right wing. In her book, “War at The Wall Street Journal,” Sarah Ellison recounts how editors inserted the phrase “assault on business” in an article about corporate taxes under President Obama. The Journal was turned into a propaganda vehicle for its owner’s conservative views. That’s half the definition of Fox-ification
Nocera also writes about the softball interview the Journal editors conducted with Murdoch where the thorniest questions were not asked.
On Friday, however, the coverage went all the way to craven. The paper published an interview with Murdoch that might as well have been dictated by the News Corporation public relations department.
The WSJ's former owners are having a case of seller's remorse.
Former Wall St Journal owners: 'We wouldn't have sold if we had known'
Cox did say he had been following the story closely in the Australian media during a trip there and that he was very concerned about what he had learned recently about the Journal's new owners.
"Reading all this makes me sick to my stomach," he said. In a subsequent email, he went even further: Rupert Murdoch, he wrote, "thinks he is completely above the law as he always has." Cox added: "We did a deal with the devil and it really saddens me [that] the editorial of this quasi public trust that has been on the vanguard of world journalism for years is not in good hands. That I am really struggling with."
Rupert Murdoch almost certainly didn't live up his commitments in an agreement with the WSJ's former owners.
Hapless former WSJ owners could yet sting Murdoch
The Dow Jones special committee, chaired by Thomas Bray, doesn’t have that kind of clout, but could still matter. To date, the committee has been toothless. It expressed mere dismay when Marcus Brauchli was ushered out as Wall Street Journal managing editor shortly after News Corp’s takeover — although Brauchli resigned voluntarily, so the editorial agreement wasn’t explicitly breached.
This time could be different. To the Bancrofts’ credit, the agreement requires News Corp to preserve the integrity not just of Dow Jones, but of all the company’s “publications and newsgathering services.” Arguably, those principles have been violated at UK outlets.
And if the committee of five U.S. media grandees chooses, it can hire investigators, lawyers and accountants to conduct their own probe, with full access to News Corp’s books, records and people.
American media has become relegated to a narrower and narrower range of corporate friendly views. Now opening up a copy of the Wall Street Journal has become the print equivalent of switching on Fox News.