Well, I used to love her...

››› ››› ERIC ALTERMAN

If you want a glimpse of what we can expect from the future Wall Street Journal under the tutelage of Rupert Murdoch, you can get a few hints from today's papers in the following stories:

1) Side Deal in the Deal for Dow Jones (NYT)

By paying the bankers and lawyers for the Bancrofts, did News Corp. essentially buy off the family's advisers and, more important, did the family receive unconflicted guidance or was it pushed to do the deal by high-priced Wall Street advisers who stood to make far more if a deal was consummated?

So the deal was done corruptly, with the clueless Bancrofts being taken for a ride by their investment advisers who stood to get (even) rich(er) as a result of it; just like the CEO of Dow Jones, Rich Zannino, who withheld the news from his newspaper and then gave an extremely pro-Murdoch presentation to its board. Surprise, surprise, looks like Zannino gets to keep his job plus the twenty mil ...

2) Giuliani is treated like an old friend on Fox News Channel (NYT)

That's because he's a longtime pal of network chief Roger Ailes. One political journal found that Rudy Giuliani has logged more time on Fox interview programs than any other candidate, with most of the time being spent with Sean Hannity, an acknowledged admirer of the former mayor.

If you think they've sucked up to Bush, my God. They owe their success to Rudy. When Time Warner, the cable TV provider in New York City, did not want to carry Fox News upon its initial launch, Rudy all but laid siege to them until they gave in. That's the value of Murdoch's $40 million-a-year charity, the New York Post.

3) And hey, look, the New York Post is on board too, naturally...

4) This story, which is not from today's papers, is in many ways the most interesting.

If you didn't happen to catch the first part of Matthew Felling's interview with former Pentagon spokesperson and now Al Jazeera guy Josh Rushing, you missed something important. As Rushing looks back on his operations with Fox News, we get a feeling for how a Murdoch owned-and-operated news organization does business: Here are some snippets (which I originally noticed on Atrios):

Josh Rushing: When I would go out and give reasons why we were going to invade Iraq, having been given the messages from a Republican operative that was my boss, he would give me the theme of the day. Sometimes it would be "WMD," others it would be "regime change" and others it would be "ties to terrorism." I would go out to a Fox reporter and they would say "Are there any messages you want to get across before we get to the live interview?" And we would script the interview around the government messaging, and they would thank me for my service at the end of it. And out of fairness, that wasn't just Fox. There were a number of American networks who did it. The reporters were in a position where there was no way their editorial leadership or their audience for that matter, wanted to see them be critical of a young troop in uniform.

But the devious part of that, is that the administration knew that and understood that and used young troops in uniform to sell the war in a way it knew couldn't be questioned or criticized. If you look at MSNBC, they packaged their coverage with a banner that said "Our Hearts Are With You." So when that banner is under my face and I'm giving the reasons why we need to go to war, is anyone going to ask me a critical question? Of course not...

There are other examples, with Fox in particular. Fox likes personalities, and Geraldo Rivera covered the war on my TV and was giving away future troop movements by drawing a map in the sand.

There was another case where a Fox reporter was reporting live from in front of an Abrams tank that was on fire. The conventional wisdom was that Abrams tanks were impervious to the technology that the fedayeen had, small arms. But it turns out that if you did hit an Abrams tank in a certain spot with a rocket-propelled grenade, you could stop it and destroy it. So the Fox correspondent is reporting that, live on television: where the weak spot is and how this must have happened. Anyone watching that stuff, Iraqi intelligence officials, fedayeen soldiers -- and we know they were watching it -- would be like 'great, next time I see an Abrams, I'm gonna save my shot until I see the money shot and aim for the vulnerable spot I saw on TV. Thank you, Fox News.' Or anyone being watching the live report from Geraldo -- where he's drawing the map in the sand -- could say 'great, I know where coming and they're bringing Geraldo with them.' There's a danger in that.

And the thing is, Fox likes to see themselves as so pro-military and patriotic and they like to share their knowledge, like they're one of the guys. It's also interesting to note now how little Fox covers the war. MSNBC covered the war three times as much as Fox, I think in June. You've got to be kidding me. The number one cheerleader for this war is now just leaving it behind?

It's all here.

Who's zooming who?

"Like its owners, the Ochs and the Sulzbergers, mostly nervous Jews, very nervous Jews. I do not exaggerate this factor, believe me." More insanity from Marty. The thing about The Spine is that it operates almost exactly like Abe Rosenthal's old column, "On My Mind," which everyone I knew called "Out of My Mind." To people who worked at the Times, the column was both a relief and an embarrassment. It was a relief because it showed the rest of the world what a lunatic they had been forced to work for and how so much of what they read in the paper wasn't their fault. On the other hand, there was a crazy man writing with the imprimatur of The New York Times twice a week. At TNR, the Marty problem is far worse, since he imposes himself on the magazine more than Rosenthal could at so large an institution, which, after all, he never owned. On the other hand, TNR is not remotely as important or influential as the Times, so there's that ... Anyway, just read the guy: Alex Cockburn was the Journal's biggest mistake? It's funny how this guy manages to be wrong no matter what. Look, I like and admire Alex Cockburn almost exactly as much as I like and admire Marty Peretz (and George W. Bush). But ironically, on the Journal's page, he was pretty good, because he was forced to discipline his arguments in order to make them to people who would not share his insane assumptions. In The Nation, where he supports the enemy in Iraq and attacks global warming as a hoax, he's well, a nut. (Though maybe that last crusade will get him back in the Journal...)

Novak shills for Thompson: As far as I can tell, no undercover CIA agent identities, nor troop movements, are revealed in this column, which makes it a somewhat unusual one for Novak ...

Why is that "idiot" still attorney general? Sid Blumenthal explains, it's the only way "that idiot" can remain president ...

And by the way, these are the same "idiots" in whom Texas entrusted the decision of whether to kill people.

"If we had that one to do over again we would probably approach it differently." -- Clinton strategist Mark Penn, admitting a rare mistake in how the campaign handled the last dust-up with Obama over David Geffen, in the New York Observer. (Um, we told you so, people, and we were nearly alone in doing so...)

This piece by Richard Pells on the teaching of culture is well worth reading, but I'm linking to it primarily to recommend Pells' two volumes of American intellectual history, which are among the most valuable books I've every read. They are: Radical Visions and American Dreams: Culture and Social Thought in the Depression Years and The Liberal Mind in a Conservative Age: American Intellectuals in the 1940s and 1950s. (Buy them from Powell's, BN, the Strand or some other independent company. Amazon is major Republican contributor.)

Have you noticed that Keith Richards is Mick Jagger's own personal Dorian Gray? Weird, huh?

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Petey
Hometown: Briarcliff

You wrote, "Woody Allen's attempts to be Bergman are all catastrophes."

Not all. His short story "Death Knocks" from, if ancient memory serves, his collection published as "Getting Even" was a hysterical sendup of the knight playing chess with death from The Seventh Seal. In Woody's version, Nat Ackerman bids to prolong his life by challenging Death to a game of gin rummy.

NAT (studying him): I'm sorry, but I cannot believe you're Death.
DEATH: Why? What'd you expect -- Rock Hudson?
NAT: No it's not that.
DEATH: I'm sorry I disappointed you.
NAT: Don't get upset. I don't know, I always thought you'd be ... un ... taller.
DEATH: I'm five seven. It's average for my weight.

Genius.

Name: Andrew
Hometown: Pound Ridge, New York

I am so glad you mentioned Wild Strawberries, which is my favorite Bergman film. While the film covers some very painful memories for the elderly protagonist, and a dread of death, the ending (spoiler coming) of him looking for his parents (as an old man) on a warm summer day, and seeing them peacefully lounging by a lakeside, captures so stunningly the soothing power of the warm memories we retain of our life.

Name: Tim
Hometown:

Hi Eric,

Don't know if you heard about this, but from hughhewitt.com:

A Wartime President
Posted by Hugh Hewitt | 12:32 PM

President Bush invited nine talk hosts into the Oval Office for an hour of conversation today -- Glenn Beck, Bill Bennett, Neal Boortz, Scott Hennon, Laura Ingraham, Lars Larson, Michael Medved, Janet Parshall and me. This was an off-the-record conversation, and so I won't be quoting the president.

I will say on today's show that I am confident about the course of the war and about the momentum in Iraq, as well of the president's absolute commitment to doing right by the troops and his concern for every lost and wounded soldier and their families. President Bush's command of the details and his broad view of the conflict is reassuring, and among my comments to him was the wish that he found more opportunities to engage in long interviews that would allow the American public to see that grasp and that commitment.

It's refreshing to see our President invite his PR reps in for a discussion about the war in Iraq. Seriously, are these talk show hosts on the White House payroll?

Name: Will Sommer
Hometown: Houston, Texas

I think you're wrong that the GOP automatically loses if Fred Thompson doesn't run. Mitt Romney is adept enough at politicking to appeal to a lot of people. For myself, if it came down to Romney or Hillary, I might be swayed to vote for him just to give another family a chance at the White House.

Eric replies: I disagree: the Mormon thing plus the flip-flop thing = doom, IMNSHO, though I've overestimated the intelligence of this process in the past.

Name: Mark
Hometown: West Windsor, NJ

How is Robert Novak not breaching national security with this column. American special forces helping Turkey against Kurd rebels? Novak writes:

"Edelman's listeners were stunned. Wasn't this risky? He responded that he was sure of success, adding that the U.S. role could be concealed and always would be denied."

Well, that is unless some enterprising jerk writes a column about it.

Name: Richard Taylor
Hometown: San Antonio

My personal opinion is that either Glenn Beck (and Tucker Carlson) have blackmail pictures on management at CNN and MSNBC or the Congress has passed a law without telling anyone requiring the supposed cable news channels to maintain at least one low-rated right wing opinion show on the air at all times. Since Fox is all right wing all the time, we just don't notice it with them

Name: Thomas Heiden
Hometown: Stratford, CT

Eric,

My cousin (a tenured journalism professor, FWIW) and I had disagreement over Bloomberg, and I'd be interested in your thoughts, as well as those of other readers.

My cousin is taken with Bloomberg's pragmatism and would be contented with him as president.

I said that behavior in a crisis is the best and most important indicator of character. The closest Bloomberg has come to a "crisis" was the '04 Republican convention - and then he turned into a totalitarian without principle or restraint.

I deemed him unfit based on that, and was told I was being too idealistic, and that no one deserves to be judged by one incident.

Too idealistic, or harshly realistic?

Eric replies: You're both right, but in truth, it's not something about which we need to worry.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.