At the Wall Street Journal CEO Council yesterday, someone asked Rupert Murdoch why our political discourse is so angry and infantile. Murdoch's answer was, "Because David Paterson is blind and can't read braille." (The correct answer is "Rupert Murdoch.")
Murdoch was on a panel with Indian mogul Ratan Tata and Mexican billionaire and future New York Times owner Carlos Slim. The question that elicited Murdoch's bizarre reference to New York Gov. David Paterson was clearly directed at Fox News: "How do we bring more civil discourse to the discussion, and stop appealing to the populists on the right and the left?"
One way would be to not pay people millions of dollars to pursue bizarre conspiracy theories and call the first black president a racist—but that's not the Murdoch way! No, Murdoch's slurred, barely coherent answer blamed politicians, including Paterson, who, it's important to note, is "blind, and can't read braille, and doesn't know what's going on." And therefore is responsible for the lack of civil discourse in our political conversation. Class act.
Good thing Murdoch has leftie liaison Gary Ginsberg at hand to smooth this over for him.
We're just going to throw this out there: Rupert Murdoch is not well. This senseless gaffe, on top of his strange and uncomprehending assertion last week that Barack Obama is indeed a racist just like Glenn Beck said and that no one at Fox News has ever compared Obama to Stalin when they obviously do on a nearly nightly basis, make him seem strange and muddled. He's getting old, and it's showing.
The conference had another highlight—Slim's defensive and belittling discussion of his minority stake in the New York Times. Asked why he loaned a quarter of a billion dollars to the struggling paper, Slim responded with a casual, "Why not?" before nearly interrupting the panel's moderator to point out that on top of a 14% interest rate, he'd received warrants in the deal. Asked to elaborate on the value of media investments, Slim started with, "I think the New York Times will pay. It was credit, with a high yield, and warrants." How reassuring. Slim did offer a perfunctory defense of the Times as a business, calling it one of the best newspapers in the world. Then he offered to lend money to the Wall Street Journal at 12%, two points better than he gave to the Times.