The Special Committee to protect the journalistic integrity of the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal issued a statement April 29 in a desperate attempt to remove some of the egg from its face.
The toothless-tiger committee was sandbagged by Murdoch who graciously accepted the resignation of managing editor Marcus Brauchli after Rupe told Marcus that his future lies in determining a game plan for News Corp.’s Star TV operation. Asia is about as far as you can get from the WSJ’s newsroom.
The Committee’s statement says it learned of Brauchli’s “amicable” resignation after the fact, which “failed to meet the letter and the spirit of the agreement” that gave it power to protect the integrity of the paper. As Christopher Bancroft, an opponent of Dow Jones sale to Murdoch, says that agreement is nothing more than “window dressing.” Rupert gets what Rupert wants.
Committee members, according to the statement, met and decided there was no practical way to “unresign” Brauchli and start the process over. In other words, they threw in the towel. The panel, which is chaired by former Detroit News editorial page editor Tom Bray, vows to “exercise fully its role in the approval of a successor managing editor and to take the steps necessary to prevent a repeat of the process it has just been through.”
The truth of the matter: Murdoch already outmaneuvered the Committee in December when he named his friend Robert Thomson, ex-Times of London editor, WSJ publisher. Thomson is de facto editor. The Committee, whose members receive $100K a year, plans to meet with Thomson in the “near future.” It has a little more face to be saved.
Murdoch, the Godzilla of the media world, already has moved on to his next target, Newsday.
The Federal Communications Commission stands as the next mountain for Murdoch to conquer. Following Murdoch's clinching of Newsday, the Commission could decide not to renew News Corp.’s TV licenses for WNYW and WWOR due to cross-ownership concerns.
Word to the wise: never underestimate Murdoch.
(Photo: European Pressphoto Agency via N.Y. Times)