Times Misinterprets Murdoch's AdviceS

Before Rupert Murdoch aimed the Wall Street Journal against the New York Times, the Australian media mogul dispensed some friendly business advice. At a Times retreat in 2002, he advised Howell Raines, then editor of the Times, on how to conduct a newspaper war. Urging Raines to compete with the Journal in hard business news, he argued: "You ought to hit them where they live." The Times did indeed poach Larry Ingrassia from the Journal to strengthen its business reporting. But it's another Murdoch paper that's being hit where it lives. As Murdoch's New York tabloid, the Post, discovered last week in covering the disgrace of Eliot Spitzer, the formerly dreary Times has developed a taste for sex scandals. (By the way, Raines' anecdote is the centerpiece of the former Timesman's first media column for Portfolio magazine. So he finally filed something usable!)