New York Times Gently Swats Its Mexican Billionaire Savior

The New York Times needed a tough story on Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, to prove its newsroom's independence after borrowing $250 million from the guy. The story's here! But is it tough? Eh.

The story, by Marc Lacey, is ostensibly about Slim's relationship with the media—he's the "Reluctant Media Baron." Really, the story is about the NYT proving that it won't have its coverage influenced by rich investors.

But the story's "on the one hand, on the other hand" premise doesn't really make sense. Here's Slim, a big media baron who invests in media companies worldwide, it says. But, "when the news media focus their spotlight on him, he sometimes gives the impression that he wants to be left alone to make more money in peace."

Of course he wants to be left alone to make his money in peace. Like every other billionaire! The story does give a rundown of various allegations against Slim: he threatened to pull advertising from a paper that wrote a negative story about him; he invests in media companies primarily so he can muffle criticism of himself; he is, overall, an evil monopolist who is milking a poor country unconscionably.

Then again, he's not flamboyant. So it all balances out. The real fun won't start until the NYT's editorial side really nails Slim's ass to the wall, hard. Can't be too difficult, can it? And damn, the newsroom needs to show it's not in thrall to the business side. The publisher's already refusing to talk his own paper's reporters. Nothing better than a nice juicy investigation of the big new investor to make the NYT Co. execs pay for that insult.

Leverage! [NYT]