The Corner

Slim Pickings

Over at NRO’s Media Blog, Kevin Williamson notes this intriguing item on the sharks circling the good ship Gray Lady:

The Sulzberger family will have to choose one of these rich men to bail them out—there are a lot of Sulzbergers, the family fortune has all but disappeared, and few of them have jobs. They’ll choose the rich man who mollifies or tricks or seduces them better than the others.

. . . So far Carlos Slim is, rather astoundingly, the one who is most successfully positioning himself as Arthur’s buddy… Slim’s game is to bit-by-bit secure, or indenture, increments of the company that, in not so many months, can give him control—all the while assuring Arthur that he is still running the paper.

That’s exactly the same strategy my friend Conrad Black used to gain control of The Daily Telegraph from Lord Hartwell in 1986. Hartwell assured the ancien régime there was no need to worry — this chap Black was just some provincial money man from Canada, useful as a source of cash but strictly a passive investor with no ambition to run a newspaper in London. Substitute Mexico for Canada, New York for London, and it all sounds very familiar — although Hartwell looks like a towering genius next to a bungler like Sulzberger.

I remember Rupert Murdoch being very impressed at Conrad’s stealthy (and cheap) acquisition of the Telegraph. It seems unlikely he’d sit back and watch it happen all over again in New York.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.


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