New York Observer, Owned By Murdoch Pal, Says We Should Be Grateful For Murdoch

Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

The New York Observer has weighed in on the scandal over News Corp. with an emphatic defense of embattled CEO Rupert Murdoch.

The Observer writes of Murdoch and the hacking scandal: "What more could he have done? How many publishers have apologized to families whose suffering has been exacerbated by media coverage? How many publishers would have closed a valuable property like News of the World?" (The editorial doesn't get around to mentioning that News Corp., under Murdoch's leadership, has bungled an internal investigation of the allegations, gave incorrect statements to Parliament, and protected its implicated executives over the years.)

The criticism of Murdoch seems to be painful to the Observer editors because the News Corp. chief is a "world-class visionary who has revived dying newspapers" and "supported alternative vehicles for political and cultural criticism." He has also "been a staunch supporter of Israel and a crusader for education reform in New York."

The editorial concludes that "Murdoch, who came to New York in the 1970s and singlehanded revitalized the city's newspaper landscape. He has done this city a service."

As The Village Voice's Joe Coscarelli notes, The Observer is published by Jared Kushner, a friend "so close that Murdoch once brought Kushner and Trump to the banks of the River Jordan, along with Queen Rania and Nicole Kidman, for the christening of Murdoch's young daughters."

That's Jared, who has also had his back scratched by Murdoch in the Wall Street Journal. Today he's just returning the favor. (Less favorable coverage of Murdoch can be found in the parts of the paper with bylines.)

In the spring, there were similar conflict of interest questions about the Observer's coverage of Donald Trump's not-so-coded racism and fake presidential campaign. The Donald, of course, is Kushner's father-in-law. (Congrats on the baby, everyone.)

[...]

The New York Times reported just last month that Kushner's relationship with Murdoch has previously been a "sore" point in the newsroom he owns. Jeremy Peters writes:

Mr. Kushner also found it difficult to work alongside his editors. Sometimes he was in open conflict with his editorial staff, who often paid him little respect.

One day in early 2009, a security breakdown in The Observer's computer system allowed employees access to one another's hard drives. A few staff members with prying eyes went into Mr. Kushner's and found a file with an intriguing name. They opened it and found pictures of their boss and Ms. Trump, his girlfriend at the time, and Billy Joel aboard Mr. Murdoch's sailboat, Rosehearty.

For a group that had seen its ranks shrunk by layoffs and demoralized by pay cuts, the sight of their young publisher surrounded by such decadence was a sore one.

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