Yesterday Rupert Murdoch surprised us a little by expressing total confidence that his News Corp. would win the bidding war for Newsday, even though his offer for the company was $70 million lower than the one from Cablevision and the Dolan Family. "I trust Mr. Zell absolutely," said Murdoch, referring to a reported "handshake deal" between the two a couple of weeks ago. "He's famous for being a man of his word. We think everything's in hand." But today the Chicago Tribune says Murdoch's overconfidence may be his weakness (Murdoch: "Your faith in your sources is yours!"). Zell's Tribune Co. is "seriously considering" the Cablevision offer, not only because of the money but because of the lack of regulatory problems that come with it. Murdoch already owns two major newspapers in the New York region, and a third would likely face federal challenges. "Interest in working with Cablevision has increased with the passage of time," a source involved with the talks told Newsday. Also Mort Zuckerman, owner of the Daily News, is revising his bid to better compete with Cablevision. As the competition heats up and Murdoch makes no move to improve his offer, the real mind games begin. Just how powerful is Murdoch's side of the Force? Only time will tell.
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