The Wall Street Journal’s crisis–how do you report on your boss being in it deep?

It’s like a train wreck in slow motion, the Rupert Murdoch crisis. The crash seems to go on and on and on. Now FBI is involved, and every Murdoch-owned entity will be put under the microscope.

This is not just a crisis involving the now defunct News of the World, nor even Murdoch and his empire. This is a crisis that affects all of journalism itself, particularly tabloid journalism. But what about Murdoch’s crown jewel, the Wall Street Journal? That venerable institution cannot escape this without more scrutiny and a close eye on how they deal with this.

With that in mind, they made big mistake number one with today’s article on Murdoch’s handling of the crisis. The article, which quite clearly serves as a voice for Murdoch’s public statements regarding the comments. Even with that, it seems to reveal a soft touch on the crisis that is not typical of the publications treatment of other companies in deep doo doo, such as BP.

In the story, son James acted without error and with adequate speed. No reference is made to Rebekah Brooks (other than in a photo with son James), an omission that is startling. And as for the accusations of former Brit PM Gordon Brown, Murdoch says Brown “got it entirely wrong” and suggested his attack was motivated by the fact that Murdoch endorsed his opponents in the last election.

Obviously, the reporter and editor are in a quandary. How do you report fairly and accurately on your boss when his empire and legacy are at risk? It’s definitely a no win. Seems they might punt by saying–”read about the problems elsewhere.” I realize that’s not an answer either, but publishing such pablum about the crisis only highlights their connection to the empire and draws them into the crisis deeper.

 

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