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by Vault Law Editors | March 04, 2010

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A juicy New York cover story this week on “The Raging Septuagenarian”—Rupert Murdoch—covers a lot of ground, with (at least) three intertwining threads:

1.    Murdoch's “Ahab-like” mission to beat the New York Times, as exemplified by his decision to launch a New York City section of his Wall Street Journal (the acquisition of which was, universally acknowledged, “the worst deal he ever made”).

2.    Murdoch's declaration of war on Google. Just for starters, Robert Thomson, editor-in-chief of the WSJ has said, “Google devalues everything it touches […] Certain websites are best described as parasites or tech tapeworms in the intestines of the Internet.” Later, in December 2009, Murdoch wrote an op-ed in the WSJ declaring that “there are those who think they have a right to take our news content and use it for their own purposes without contributing a penny to its production…To be impolite, it’s theft.” And now come signals that News Corp is "ready to sue" over Google's indexing of its newspaper content.

3.    The soap operatic squabble for succession among Murdoch’s children.

The piece also features an interesting BigLaw cameo:

Murdoch wrote [NYTimes publisher] Sulzberger a personal note…: “Let the battle begin!”

The next day, Sulzberger was sitting in his office at the Times Building with Richard Beattie, the chairman of law firm Simpson Thacher, who had advised the Dow Jones board during the Journal deal. Sulzberger pulled out Murdoch’s note.

“He was laughing at the time,” Beattie told [the New York reporter]. “He thought it was cute.”

Questions: is Pinch still laughing? And is it sort of indiscreet for a BigLaw honcho to share this unflattering anecdote with a journalist? Or is it meant to be flattering?

-posted by brian

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