So the big news in media circles, if you care about that sort of thing (and, really, what's more exciting, Danny DeVito drunk on 'The View'? We think not.), is Maurice "Hank" Greenberg's plan to buy the New York Times. This morning's Post reported that the "billionaire insurance titan" has been "buying huge blocks of New York Times stock to break the Sulzberger family's stranglehold on the media empire." This afternoon, CNBC's Charlie Gasparino (yeah, just pretend that you know who he is) advanced the story, claiming
Hank Greenberg is actively engaged in trying to buy the entire New York Times company. [H]e has approached investment bankers and asked them if they would work for him so they could put together some sort of a plan to take over the New York Times company. Now, investment bankers have told him it would be next to impossible, if not impossible, because let's face it, the New York Times has two classes of stock, the family controls the voting stock which makes it difficult for Hank Greenberg to come in there or essentially any investor to come in there and buy the company. But Greenberg is intent on pushing the envelope on this.
Gasparino goes on to speculate about Greenberg's motives: First, Greenberg believes the company is undervalued, and he wants to get his hands on it before fellow billionaire Jack Welch does. Second, the Times was sort of a dick to him when Attorney General Eliot Spitzer brought the criminal charges (later dismissed, although civil charges are still pending) against him that resulted in his ouster from AIG. Third, the pussy. (Okay, Gasparino didn't say that, but it's implied.) In any event, Gasparino makes the point that while newspapers may be dying, they're still relatively profitable. Even the Times, which, while occasionally maddening, remains one of the three best papers in the English-speaking world.
We're rooting for the Sulzbergers on this one: We consider the Times a sacred trust, and we'd hate to see if fall into the hands of some geriatric insurance peddler with a desire for publicity and an axe to grind. If the Times were owned by a collection of investment bankers, would there still be room for experiments in journalism like today's front-pager where a couple of experts in body language were shown tape of the Giants collapse against the Titans last Sunday to analyze what Tom Coughlin was feeling? Not bloody likely. Good luck, Pinchy, or whatever they call you. We're all on your side.