Scoring the Wall Street Journal/New York Times Newspaper War: The Smacktalk Showdown

So, while we wait to find out if anybody actually cares about any of this besides some media junkies and the players involved, it's worth noting that The Newspaper War has been a particularly dirty one! How dirty? Funny you should ask.

THE OPENING SHOT: There's been a lot of talking trash. It mostly started in Gabriel Sherman's piece for NY Mag about Murdoch early last month, in which NYT chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. dismissed any competition with the Times ("Whatever."). It was the same piece in which Murdoch's hatred of the Times' "characteristic self-interest wrapped in a cloak of high-toned moralism" became clear, particularly with the charming revelation that Murdoch personally wrote Sulzberger a note with the words "Let the battle begin!" inscribed on it.

WINNER: Obviously the Journal, because everyone knew it was coming, and at least nobody got suckerpunched.

THE STAFFING WARS: There's been lots of hiring and stealing people! In addition to bringing a restaurant reporter and sports reporters to the Journal for the first time ever, they even hired a gossip blogger society reporter nobody's heard of! Well, guess what the New York Times did only a few weeks after condescending a bunch of well-to-do kids as gossip bloggers? Hired a gossip blogger nightlife reporter themselves!

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They also hired the Wall Street Journal's spokescreature away from them, and a Wall Street Journal culture reporter who knew "all the plans," which made people "fucking furious."

WINNER: Draw, for the moment. The Times has more people but they also owe their pawnbroker a bunch of money, and Rupe's got a grip of cash to spend on this thing. But they did steal some guys from the Journal. So there's that.

THE SMACKTALK:

With the war starting, we wondered what Mr. Murdoch thought about Times publisher's Arthur Sulzberger Jr.'s reaction to the whole dust-up involving what happened at Sir Martin Sorrell's apartment a few weeks ago when the Mr. Sulzberger and Journal editor Robert Thomson met for the first time.

(Mr. Thomson described their conversation to us in an interview, and Mr. Sulzberger, through a spokesman, said Mr. Thomson lied).

Mr. Murdoch's swatted the air disgustedly with his right hand, and said, "He should get a life."

Much like this:

But he let Koblin live, I guess. More where that came from, no doubt.

WINNER: Wall Street Journal. Obviously. Thompson has taken to the Tupac Shakur school of smacktalk, apparently.

The Celebrity Endorsements: It starts with NYC Hipster DJs The MisShapes repping for the Journal to New York Observer media reporter John Koblin:

"I haven't read it, but I hear it's really good," said Geordon Nicol of the MisShapes, the DJ for the event on Monday, when asked about Greater New York.

Repped! Unfortunately, the MisShapes are apparently illiterate and also totally past their date, yo.

WINNER: The New York Times, because they didn't bring The MisShapes into this.

And the overall winner for The Newspaper Wars Lead-Up Smacktalk is...

YOU, THE READER!

Because you get to watch what one could safely assume to be once dignified people losing their civility with each step in both substantial and insubstantial battles that result in all parties descending to levels of competition sometimes so petty they make you feel like a better person just for not being one of these moneyed assholes in a pissing contest involving a dying industry. Followed by Wall Street Journal reporters, who get jobs from it, followed by media reporters like me, who get easy things to write about, following by the Wall Street Journal, because, of course, Rupert Murdoch and Crew talk better shit.

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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