Today's Blogs

Dow Under Murdoch?

Bloggers respond to a rumor that Rupert Murdoch’s the new owner of Dow Jones. They also wonder if Fred Thompson’s tendentious role as a Watergate attorney means his days as a plain-talking maverick Republican are over. Also, BestBuy computer technicians steal your porn.

Dow under Murdoch? According to the Business, a U.K. magazine, Rupert Murdoch has succeeded in his bid to own Dow Jones, and with it the Wall Street Journal, for a purchase price of $5 billion. The most contentious point of negotiation in the rumored deal is also the only one that Dow Jones, which denies the sale, has officially copped to: that the Journal would retain editorial independence.

The fact that the Business broke this story makes the New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin at DealBook skeptical: “One of the piece’s authors, Andrew Neil, formerly edited The Sunday Times, a News Corp. publication, for 11 years, suggesting that the story may be a plant.” Justin Fox at Time’s The Curious Capitalist yawns through the pro forma Dow Jones denial of sale: “[O]nce it really happens we will find out what having Rupert Murdoch in charge of the Wall Street Journal really means. I’ve generally been of the he’s-too-smart-to-ruin-it camp. But lots of smart people seem to think this is the end of good journalism as we know it.”

VDT at Liberal Revolt is in that camp: “And if you believe that Murdoch will not find a way to influence the Journal’s journalism, then I have a bridge to sell you.” Conservative Jammie Wearing Fool is less alarmed, “As long as James Taranto is still at Opinion Journal, I really could care less what the leftes on the editorial side of the WSJ think. If they hate Murdoch so much, resign and go elsewhere.”

Roger Anderson at commerce blog Modern Magellans is skeptical of the takeover, but thinks it’s proceeding apace for News Corp.’s business-first style: “What Mr. Murdoch clearly wants is to start the game with the proven source of respectable business news. Already WSJ has evening and weekend reports on the FOX News channel. Now News Corp. wants to make it a permanent relationship. The Dow Jones Company has few if any close equals for business news in the United States. It will make a great foundation for a business channel. So why not make one on their own then? Why does it need to be tied to News Corp. to do the right thing?”

Read more about the possible Murdoch purchase of Dow Jones.

Fred’s cred: The Boston Globe reports that Fred Thompson, in his role as Senate Watergate committee minority counsel, leaked to the Nixon White House the crucial information that the committee knew about the president’s secret tapes. Former Democratic Watergate investigator Scott Armstrong said, “Thompson was a mole for the White House,” causing no small amount of scorn for the would-be GOP candidate in cyberspace.

Hilzoy at liberal Obsidian Wings boils down the rap: “The very best possible spin that you can put on it is that the lawyer who did this was very, very trusting, very, very dumb, and wholly unprofessional. In this case, we’d probably have to add: very ambitious, and willing to put ambition ahead of principle and professionalism.”

Lefty Mark Kleiman at The Reality-Based Community has low expectations for media outrage: “I’ll bet you anything you like that this story, which says something truly horrible about Thompson’s character, won’t get nearly the attention lavished on John Edwards’s haircut.”

As for Thompson’s e-mailed response to the Boston Globe about his activity as investigative counsel—”I’m glad all of this has finally caused someone to read my Watergate book, even though it’s taken them over thirty years”—David Weigl at libertarian magazine Reason’s Hit and Run fires back: “Unsurprising. Thompson’s strategy is all about talking past the media to the Republican establishment, for whom being a towering presidential sycophant—he stuck up for Nixon and Scooter!—is no bad thing.”

Read more about Thompson’s Watergate involvement.

Sad Mac, happy help desk:Popular shopping blog The Consumerist has conducted a three-month sting operation against BestBuy’s “Geek Squad,” or pool of computer technicians, and found that the guys who’ll install iTunes for you will also purloin your bawdy. The blog posts a hilarious work-safe video showing one such Geek checking out the plant computer’s nudie pics and then downloading them onto his own personal hard drive. That can’t be good for business.

Paul McNamara at techie blog Network World asks: “Who the heck steals porn? I mean any 12-year-old can find all anybody should want for free. My second question was even more puzzling, however: Who could possibly defend the actions of the Geek Squad technician?”

But DCVision, in the comments section of Consumerist, poses a morally challenging question: “What would everyone be saying if the geek squad found child porn or other blatently illegal material on the ‘honey pot’? It is a double edged moral sword, to check illegal material, and then report it to the authorities, or just not check, and not detain/punish such material. … [I]f a geek squad member catches a pedophile by nosing into folders on a computer left for repair, are they going to be fired for violating policy? or held as an example of someone saving a child?”

Read more about Consumerist’s BestBuy sting operation.