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NYC newspaper war now playing out in the Post, Observer and Vanity Fair

Over at the Department of Double Standards we find Vanity Fair media columnist Michael Wolff writing one of those self-fulfilling-prophecy pieces about how dim-witted the Sulzbergers are. The item is in the May issue and muses on how the family will inevitably sell The New York Times to Warren Buffett or the Washington Post Company or Michael Bloomberg or the highest bidder. And that whoever gets it will deserve it more than the Sulzbergers because whoever it is isn’t—how to put it?—as stupid as the Sulzbergers.

The Sulzberger family has long assumed that its virtue and voting control and the weight of history are more powerful than anybody else’s cunning and cash and the ups and downs of the market. No doubt they’ll continue to assume that they have meritoriously protected the paper even after their cluelessness has delivered it into other hands.

Keep in mind that this is the same Michael Wolff who is Rupert Murdoch’s official biographer (NB: Murdoch owns The Wall Street Journal and has more or less issued a fatwa against the Times) and that last December 12, The New York Observer reported the following:

Vanity Fair’s Michael Wolff, who is writing an authorized biography of Rupert Murdoch due out next fall, takes a shot in today’s New York Post at the Wall Street Journal’s media reporter Sarah Ellison, who recently announced plans to write a book about the transformation of the news media, using Mr. Murdoch’s takeover of Dow Jones as its centerpiece.

Mr. Wolff told the Post’s Keith Kelly that Ms. Ellison has no business writing a book about the Murdoch takeover in light of her affiliation with the company that’s being taken over.

“The problem with someone from The Wall Street Journal writing a book is that they are inevitably conflicted,” Wolff is quoted as saying. “Either they’re bitter that Murdoch bought the place or they are trying to save their job.”

It’s unclear whether Mr. Wolff is suggesting that Ms. Ellison’s coverage of the Dow Jones–News Corp. deal—her beat at the Journal since this past summer—is similarly tainted by conflict of interest.

So let me get this straight: a writer for The Wall Street Journal can’t write a book about Rupert Murdoch because her take is biased either way, but Murdoch’s “official” biographer can write a piece for Vanity Fair trashing his subject’s main competition in the New York newspaper war and that’s just peachy keen?

Oh dear.

• Michael Wolff Bashes WSJ Media Reporter’s Murdoch Book [New York Observer]

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