The New York Times' lack of coverage on a major lawsuit involving its billionaire shareholder Carlos Slim has at least one writer wondering if Slim has bought the paper's silence.
The Big Money's James Ledbetter wrote over the weekend about "The Story The New York Times Won't Touch." Slim, who bought a large stake in the New York Times in 2008 and then raised his stake in early 2009, is a Mexican telecom billionaire.
Slim is involved in a lawsuit that includes both JP Morgan and his main telecom rival, as summarized by Reuters' Felix Salmon:
JP Morgan took one of its longest-standing clients in Mexico -- Grupo Televisa -- and tried to hand all of its secrets over to its biggest rival, Carlos Slim. And the way it tried to do that was by selling Slim a loan larded up with covenants which would essentially force Televisa to reveal any and all information to the holder of the debt.
Ledbetter argues that the size of the trial's parties, as well as the scandalous details, would merit an article in the New York Times business section (he notes that it was covered by both the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg). And yet, the paper has not covered the lawsuit at all, leading Ledbetter to wonder if Slim's stake in the newspaper is the reason:
This is a scandalous story, involving one of the world's largest banks, a powerful federal judge, and two Mexican telecom giants. Under any other circumstances, the business section of the Times would be expected to cover it, as the Journal and Bloomberg have. Yet as of Saturday midday, I cannot find a single mention of any aspect of this case, anywhere in the physical New York Times, or on its Web site--not even a blog post or a wire story. Perhaps as the lawsuit moves on, the Times will be compelled to cover it. But for the moment, it certainly appears that Carlos Slim's investment has bought the silence of one of the world's most important newspapers.
A search on NYTimes.com Monday confirmed that the case has not been mentioned on the paper's website.
The newspaper has seen fit to cover Slim since he raised his stake in the company, however. Just one month after Slim invested another $250 million into the newspaper, he was profiled on the front page of the business section.