Still, the Herald — like the Post— took great relish in tormenting Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy, Murdoch’s liberal nemesis. (In 1987, Kennedy exacted revenge by crafting legislation that forced Murdoch to sell the Post; Murdoch repurchased the paper in 1993.) And the paper’s editorial page was famously harsh on then–Massachusetts congressman John Kerry in his 1984 Senate race against Republican Ray Shamie. “That was a critical race, and the Herald hounded Kerry,” says one Herald veteran who asked not to be identified. “One of the questions that was always there was who was calling the shots on that. Was it Joe Robinowitz? Les Hinton? I’m not privy to whether Robinowitz picked up the phone and talked to Murdoch four times a day. But I know [Murdoch’s] influence was pretty clear.”
As different as the Herald and the Journal are in terms of editorial content, the biggest discrepancy between Murdoch’s purchases of the two papers is probably financial. Murdoch spent $5 billion to buy Dow Jones; he ponied up just $1 million to pry the HeraldAmerican from Hearst. (The Herald deal also included future financial considerations, reportedly up to $7 million; the cumulative purchase price remains unclear.)
The implications of these vastly different price tags are uncertain, however. A case could be made that, since Murdoch bought the Herald on the cheap, he had no reason to invest a great deal of time or energy in the paper. But the opposite argument could also be made: since the Herald cost Murdoch a pittance, he could have run roughshod over the paper without giving it a second thought.
As for the Journal, it’s true that Murdoch probably didn’t spend $5 billion in order to leave the paper untouched. Then again, this same $5 billion payment is a serious acknowledgment of just how much the Journal does right. In a best-case scenario, Murdoch gives the Journal added financial security and a major jolt of adrenaline. Worst case? Political pressure. Managers who know News Corp. but don’t know the Journal. And — worst of all — a steady diet of Wingo!
On the Web
Adam Reilly's Media Log: http://www.thephoenix.com/medialog
: Media -- Dont Quote Me
, Frank Phillips, Les Hinton, Les Hinton, More