Michael Wolff, author of the recently published Rupert Murdoch tell-all, “The Man Who Owns the News,” says that the News Corp chief executive would love to buy The New York Times. The only thing standing in his way is the Ochs-Sulzberger family which controls the Times. If they’re anything like the Bancrofts, former controllers of Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, only an insane amount of money might persuade them to let go of the prized but struggling newspaper publisher.
Or maybe Murdoch himself. Whatever the scuttlebutt is about Murdoch’s plans for the Times, he told reporters on Thursday that he’s not interested in buying it. Speaking on a conference call after the company reported dismal second-quarter results, he said it might not be good for his image:
“I’ve got no desire to be an even bigger public enemy.”
This, of course, refers to the charge leveled at him from London to New York to Hong Kong that he uses the papers and other media that he owns to advance his personal business interests.
As for newspapers themselves? He already owns a bunch, from the Journal (which was part of a $3 billion-plus writedown on Thursday’s earnings) to the New York Post ($185 million writedown Thursday) to The Times of London to The Australian. And he’s keeping them, by the sound of things:
“I’ve got great faith. If we continue the way we’re going, we may even get lucky and not have so much competition at the end of it all.”