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Only One Thing Going to Save the “Grey Lady”, Now: A Change of Politics

I notice Mark Steyn, this morning [1], chatting about the situation at the New York Times:

Over at NRO’s Media Blog, Kevin Williamson notes this intriguing item [2] on the sharks circling the good ship Gray Lady:

The Sulzberger family will have to choose one of these rich men to bail them out—there are a lot of Sulzbergers, the family fortune has all but disappeared, and few of them have jobs. They’ll choose the rich man who mollifies or tricks or seduces them better than the others.

steyn22.jpg [3]

Mark Steyn

… So far Carlos Slim is, rather astoundingly, the one who is most successfully positioning himself as Arthur’s buddy… Slim’s game is to bit-by-bit secure, or indenture, increments of the company that, in not so many months, can give him control—all the while assuring Arthur that he is still running the paper.

That’s exactly the same strategy my friend Conrad Black used to gain control of The Daily Telegraph from Lord Hartwell in 1986. Hartwell assured the ancien régime there was no need to worry – this chap Black was just some provincial money man from Canada, useful as a source of cash but strictly a passive investor with no ambition to run a newspaper in London. Substitute Mexico for Canada, New York for London, and it all sounds very familiar – although Hartwell looks like a towering genius next to a bungler like Sulzberger.

Mark’s general leaning is apparently that Murdoch will have his hands in this before we’re all done, mostly because the list of people with enough moey to pour into the place is so small.   I tend to agree.  For all that, the big story here is that whatever else happens, the moral bankruptcy the Times has shown us for generations, is growing into fiscal bankruptcy, as well, and likley faster than we’re being told.

drain1 [4]You know, there’s something about the idea that the Sulzberger Family has a lot of people in it, none of which have actual jobs, that strikes me as explanatory for the political leanings of the paper. That point strikes me as problematic for any buyer at this stage. Notice the lack of any discussion among the suitors about why the paper is in trouble, and thereby conclusions about changing the infamously left lean of the paper. Perhaps the issue here is not wanting to alarm Pinch too much for fear of nixing the sale.  Logic dictates that the paper must change to survive, and it can move nowhere but right. There’s no further left to move to.  Sulzberger’s resistance to that change is exactly the problem, however, and nothing short of that kind of change of the paper’s content, will stop the Times from circling the drain… it is simply a matter of time before it fails utterly.  That goes for any new owner, too.

Example: I mentioned in last night’s Ramble that David Geffin was considering buying the place, and that the likelihood of real change would be small under his ownership, avowed leftist that he is.  He’d be pouring good money after bad into the place, as Pinch has been doing for decades. Simply changing owners,and getting fresh cash into the place… a bailout if you will…  isn’t going to change that.   Absent a change of content… a change of political bearing away from the hard leftist lean, the paper is going down, regardless who owns the thing.  

I must admit there is a certain pleasurable reaction to the notion of Pinch and his pals sinking in their own stewpot.  That seems a foregone conclusion at this point….  Always assuming, of course,  the promise of Obama about not bailing out newspapers doesn’t have an expiration date, too. And yes, that too is still a question, as with every single promise Obama has ever made.