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It's Expensive Being Rupert Murdoch

MEDIA • Did Dow Jones cost Rupert Murdoch an extra $1 billion just because he’s Rupert Murdoch? [Slate] • Rik Hertzberg to blog for The New Yorker. From YearlyKos. And without fact-checking. [WWD] • Doug Henwood feels guilty about enjoying The Nation’s cruise. Because liberals always feel guilty. [The Nation]

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Rupert Murdoch Is Happy, Can't You Tell?

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Not that we'd pretend to understand how Rupert Murdoch thinks, but a question: If you're leaving the board meeting of your global media behemoth at which the board has just voted to approve your deal to buy a company you've aggressively pursued, if you're successfully buying the company after you didn't budge an inch from your initial offer a few months ago while all the people who'd publicly said they hated you eventually came around and sold their family company to you, if you've said for years, even decades, that you wanted to buy this company, and if you've intentionally left the window of your SUV open so that photogs could get a good shot of you reveling in your victory, well, shouldn't you at least try to look excited? Just asking.

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The Dow Jones Deal, Digested

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So what does Rupert Murdoch’s successful purchase of Dow Jones mean for the company, the Journal, the country, the world, you? Let’s (metaphorically) ask Jim Romenesko, the ultimate summarizer of such matters. According to Jim, “explaining how Murdoch ended up winning DJ is simple,” but the “WSJ will lose prestige with News Corp. running the show.” “Murdoch’s DJ purchase could change business journalism.” (You think?) “WSJ reporters react bitterly to news of Murdoch’s victory,” and “‘just what the world needs [is] the Fox-ification of the WSJ.’”

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Today's Bancroft-o-Meter: Rupe's Gonna Make It After All?

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It's a funny thing. When any of us has a deadline, we have to obey it. Work has to be in when work has to be in. Taxes must be postmarked by April 15. The 5:09 for Montauk leaves at, God willing, 5:09. But apparently if you're an already-rich family try to cash out on your newspaper company — or, for that matter, if you're the State of New York applying for a half-billion dollars — a deadline is but a trifling concern. And so yesterday's 5 p.m. cutoff for the Bancrofts to yea or nay a sale of Dow Jones to News Corporation came and went, and still no one knows the result. The Times today calls a deal "tantalizing close," and the soberer Journal says the two sides "edged closer."

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Today's Bancroft-o-Meter: Busted!

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There's around a half-hour left to what's nominally the deadline for the Bancrofts to approve a sale of Dow Jones, their family media company and the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. So what's going happen? The short answer: No one knows. The Denver trusts are still holding out for more money, and now some of the Boston lawyers who act as trustees might feel that way, too. Rupert says he won't offer more. Jane Cox MacElree, a family matriarch, is still against a deal, but she resigned from some of the trusts she heads because their beneficiaries are in favor. Family lawyers are trying to restructure one of the trusts Christopher Bancroft oversees, because he's against the deal and will vote the shares in opposition, even though some of the beneficiaries of that trust support it. The Times says that it's possible this whole thing will go into tomorrow or beyond, deadline notwithstanding. ("How long does it take to make a vote?" a fund manager asks in a CNN/Money article, echoing everyone's frustration.) Oh, and Murdoch is "highly unlikely" to go through with the deal if he only gets enough Bancroft support to squeak though. So, yeah, we've got no idea. But so far today Dow Jones stock has dropped almost three points, or 5.6 percent, to 51.5 — which means investor think things aren't looking good for a deal. Bancrofts' Jockeying Over Murdoch Deal Goes Down to the Wire [WSJ] Dow Jones Deal Dead? Don't Bet on It [CNN/Money] Bancrofts Said Divided as Journal Deadline Looms [NYT] News Corp. Says It's 'Highly Unlikely' to Buy Dow Jones at Current Count [WSJ]

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Privileged Spitzer

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• While A.G. Andrew Cuomo was investigating him, Eliot Spitzer gagged two aides by quickly designating them "special counsels" — which bestowed lawyer-client privilege on their internal chats. Clever, and ever so slightly nauseating. [NYP]

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The Bancroft-o-Meter: Death to Rupert?

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Movement on the Bancroft-o-Meter! The Journal's Matthew Karnitschnig breaks the news this afternoon that the group of Bancroft trusts managed by a Denver law firm — as opposed to the bulk of the trusts, controlled by a Boston firm — will vote against the proposed sale to News Corporation. This is sort of a big deal, as the Denver-controlled votes were thought to be in favor of the Murdoch offer. Indeed, if we're doing our math right — and we're by no means certain we are — with the Denver 9.1 percent of votes against Murdoch, combined with Christopher Bancroft's 15 percent, which are definitely against, and Jane Cox MacElree's 15 percent, which according to Wednesday's Journal article are likely against (she's the one who cried at the family meeting Tuesday while invoking Danny Pearl), 49.1 percent of votes are against the deal. Throw in the Ottaway family's 7 percent, a definite no, and that puts 56.1 percent of Dow Jones votes against the Murdoch deal at the moment. Doesn't it? UPDATE: No, it doesn't. And we're really bad at math. 15+15+9.1 = 39.1, not 49.1. So we're at 46.1 percent against now. Wow we're embarrassed. Key Bancroft Family Trust to Vote Against News Corp. Bid for Dow Jones [WSJ] Earlier: Today's Bancroft-o-Meter: Lukewarm, Maybe?

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Today's Bancroft-o-Meter: Lukewarm, Maybe?

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Yesterday was the big Bancroft family meeting on the future of Dow Jones, and today The Wall Street Journal has a hugely comprehensive takeout on who in the family stands where on the question of selling to Rupert Murdoch. (Somewhere, Clark Hoyt is kvelling.) No one really knows what's going to happen: There are 33 Bancrofts, with more than 100 different trusts, managed by two different trusts and estates law firms, who have a say in this. After 2,700 words, by five bylined reporters, it's impossible to tell who controls what votes and which people will vote which way. But, still, like on any good daytime soap, it's fun to break down the players. After the jump, it's all Jessie Bancroft Cox's children.

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Bancrofts Meet, Say (Almost) Nothing

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The Bancroft family, owners of Dow Jones and its Wall Street Journal, met for something like seven hours yesterday in Boston to hear about Rupert Murdoch's bid to buy the company. There were a series of presentations but no actual debate; a decision could come as soon as later this week. Christopher Bancroft, a key opponent of the sale, spoke to reporters as he was leaving the meeting, but he wouldn't comment. He was, however, wearing a hat that said "Bite Me." Subtle. Related: Family Talks on Sale of Dow Jones Are Called 'Not Acrimonious' [NYT]

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Know Your Bancrofts

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They're the most watched formerly quite private rich family in America right now: the Bancrofts, proprietors of Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal for the past century. The company's board has approved Rupert Murdoch's $5 billion takeover offer, but the deal isn't done yet, and it won't be till the family signs off. They're meeting today in Boston to discuss. Who are they, exactly? After the jump, a family scorecard.

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After ‘WSJ’ Deal Closes, Will Pam and Jim at Least Get Together?

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As the shadow of Murdoch begins to loom over Dow Jones, the offices of The Wall Street Journal are turning into the set of The Office. At least according to today's Times, which depicts the Journal staff reduced to a very familiar kind of gallows humor and passive-aggressive sniping. Some have been answering phones with a cheery "News Corporation!" Others, getting ready to mock the boss, have begun to mimic Rupe's Australian accent, the same way every Californian in 2004 had an Ah-nuld impersonation. A cryptic "I fly with Leslie" poster, noticed by the Times reporter, translates to a statement of defiance: Leslie Hill, a former pilot, is a Bancroft who's against the deal. Even the bureau chiefs are getting into the populist-outrage humor: "We will have Page 3 girls," announced one after a conference call with Murdoch, referring to the cheesecake shots his London Sun publishes. "But in a concession, they will be dot drawings." And it'll only get worse: Wait till they find out they'll be merging with the Stamford office. Murdoch’s Arrival Worries Journal Employees [NYT]

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And in Non-Explosion News...

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• As if last night's man-made horrors weren't enough, here's one from Mother Nature: A tornado touched down in Islip Terrace, uprooting trees and ripping up a law office, as two storms pummeled Long Island at the same time. [WNBC] • Some Wall Street Journal employees answer phones by drawling "News Corporation" in an Australian accent. [NYT] • Congress is refusing to pass a "routine resolution" honoring the New York Archdiocese because it mentions scandal-tainted Cardinal Edward Egan by name. Honorable, we guess. Remind us why Congress is honoring archdioceses in the first place? [NYP] • Al Sharpton, who led the drive to get Don Imus fired, will have no problem with his nemesis' return to the airwaves: "He has a right to make a living." So does the Rev, who clearly needs new material. [amNY] • And mazel tov to Mark Malkoff, who visited every Starbucks in Manhattan — there are 171 — in 24 hours. Bad news: Dude's an "aspiring filmmaker" and, naturally, filmed the journey. [NYDN]

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IHOP Bids for Applebee's: The End of an American Institution?

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There's news of an enormous, potentially game-changing corporate acquisition, the reverberations of which will be felt all across the country. We speak, of course, of the announcement that IHOP Corp. will buy the Applebee's chain for $2.1 billion. IHOP plans to convert the floundering Applebee's, one of the few company-owned national food chains, to the more popular franchise model. Though the deal appears to make immediate economic sense, we're naturally worried about the possible loss of Applebee's legendary culinary freedom. Will celebrity chef Tyler Florence, who had just unveiled his bruschetta burger and herb-crusted chicken breast for the fall menu, set to debut September 18, be allowed to continue his independent and aggressive experimentation under IHOP Corp.?

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Stalled Traffic

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• After all that, Albany shelved Bloomberg's congestion-pricing idea, letting the federal-funding deadline pass without the issue even coming to a vote. Expect a new traffic-reducing proposal, nothing like Bloomberg's, later in the year. [NYT]

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Did You Hear the One About the iPhone Nano?

FINANCE • A JP Morgan analyst got canned for writing a report about a fictional Apple product, the iPhone Nano. [Apple 2.0 via DealBreaker] • Using the screen name Rahodeb, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey posted on Yahoo Finance bulletin boards to bash competitor Wild Oats. [Deal Journal/WSJ] • The SEC tries to reclaim authority over hedge funds by writing rules allowing the agency to sue for misleading investors. [Bloomberg]

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Today in Dow Jones: Everything's Different; Nothing's Changed

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When last we checked in on the players in the New Corporation–Dow Jones drama — the star-crossed Bancroft family, their Wall Street Journal, the interloping scamp Rupert Murdoch, and the thousands of field hands who fear they'll be sold down the river if Murdoch gets his hands on the thing — a British business mag was reporting that a purchase deal was essentially done and Dow Jones spokesmen were saying it wasn't. Where do things stand today? The Times reports that the editor of that British biz mag insists his story is true; the Journal reports that Dow Jones is still desperately seeking other suitors, including Ron Burkle, though perhaps only as a way to get Rupe to raise his offer; senior Journal editors tell the Times a lot of Journal reporters will lose their jobs if no deal happens; one longtime big-shot editor left the paper for Business Week; and Norm Pearlstine, the former Journal managing editor who went on to run Time Inc., says in the L.A. Times that Murdoch should encourage the Journal to cover News Corp. aggressively. In other words, nothing has actually changed. Expert on Murdoch Insisted Dow Jones Deal Was Done [NYT] Dow Jones Makes Late Push to Find Other Buyers [WSJ] Job Cuts Averted as Bid for Journal Stays Open [NYT] Journal Editor to Join a Magazine [NYT] You've Got to Cover Yourself [LAT]

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Who Will Catch the ‘Journal’ Stars?

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Even before Rupert Murdoch declared his intentions, The Wall Street Journal was already a bit under siege. The paper is full of talent that other publications want, and greedy rival editors — from Business Week, Forbes, Fortune, Portfolio, Newsweek, Time, the Times — are drawing up their lists of Journalistas to entice away. After the jump, a speculative shopping list.

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Breaking: There May or May Not Be a Deal for Dow Jones!

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A British mag called The Business is confidently reporting today that "Rupert Murdoch has succeeded with his $5 billion bid for Dow Jones, owners of the Wall Street Journal, according to sources acting for the Dow Jones board." The Business says the price is $60 per share, that the deal includes the legally enforceable editorial-integrity agreement reached last week, that the Bancrofts are all onboard, and that the deal will be announced next week. Just one little problem. Dow Jones says none of it is true:
A spokeswoman for Dow Jones said the report from The Business was "false." She said there has been "no change" in ongoing negotiations on the takeover offer from News Corp. (NWS). "The only agreement is on editorial independence," said the spokeswoman, Andrea Grinbaum.
Sigh. We really have to deal with this on a summer Friday? EXCLUSIVE: Rupert Murdoch buys Dow Jones, owners of the Wall Street Journal [The Business] Dow Jones: Report On Completed News Corp Deal 'False' [DJ Newswires via CNNMoney]

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‘WSJ’ Editorial Deal Reached: Umpteenth Verse, Same As the First

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So Rupert Murdoch made a bid for Dow Jones. And he said he'd create an independent oversight board for The Wall Street Journal like he did for the London Times when he bought it, which can veto News Corp.'s top-level hiring decisions. And the Bancrofts were miffed about that. The London board wasn't strong enough. It couldn't protect their paper enough. Hell, it couldn't even protect Harry Evans. They wanted a strong, all-powerful board. They wanted Murdoch's money, but they didn't want him hurting their newspaper. Murdoch, however, rejected their proposal. He didn't want an all-powerful outside board. He didn't even offer a board as powerful as London's. "They can't sell their company and still control it — that's not how it works," he said to Time magazine. "I'm sorry!" And now today the Times reports a deal has been reached on an oversight board. It will, after all that, be much like London's. Still Another View of Role of Panel Proposed for Wall St. Journal [NYT]

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