03/28/2008 02:44 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

This Day in Murdochiana: Jack Shafer is in a Glass Case of Emotion

No emoticon currently exists to succinctly and exquisitely capture the feelings of Slate's Jack Shafer where Rupert Murdoch's ambitions to take over the Dow is concerned. Like just about everyone else who covers the media, Shafer has done his part, adding his own voice to the several thousand cautionary, anti-Murdoch articles published each day in a futile attempt to dissuade the Bancrofts from giving in to Murdoch, or, failing that, at least diminish the overall media share of the Tuberculosis Guy.

What's separated Shafer from the rest of the drum-beating herd has been the way in which, subtextually, he's made it clear that he has something at stake: a sentimental, nostalgic attachment to the Wall Street Journal. In one article, Shafer confesses: "I oppose Murdoch's bid because I like the Wall Street Journal the way it is."

That's been the case, at least, up until this week, when Shafer suddenly shifted from the "We Must Stop Murdoch From Destroying the Journal" cri de coeur to "We Must Destroy the Journal Now Before Rupert Has a Chance!" In "If The Peach Stole the Journal Cream" Shafer expresses a newly found desire to "torch the [Journal] before [Murdoch] gets a chance to sully it," and lays out a bold scenario in which the Financial Times makes off with "100 of [the WSJ's] best reporters and editors." So much for sentimental attachments.

Hmmm. Well, leaving aside that fact that the FT prefers to think of its pages as salmon, not "peach," if the FT attempted this stunt, wouldn't they be sending a bad message to its readers and shareholders? "Hey, as it turns out, we've always felt like we were a bit of an also-ran. Luckily, we'll be replacing the reporters and editors you've come to know and love with some old employees of our competitor!"

Chances are, Shafer doesn't literally expect or even want this personnel raid to happen. We prefer to think of it as a rhetorical feint that indicates Shafer has, in the Kubler-Ross model, moved from "Anger" to "Bargaining." That means "Depression" is next. Good luck with that, Slate readers!

  • USA Today checks in with Dow Jones CEO Rich Zannino, labels him "neutral" on takeover bid, but alludes to potential personal gains if Murdoch is successful: "If the News Corp. bid does succeed, it will undoubtedly raise Rich's profile."
  • Bancrofts continue to strategize, seeking a way to build a firewall between Murdoch and the editorial independence of the Journal
  • Also: some other guy now wants to maybe purchase Dow Jones.