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Murdoch, Burkle, the Bancrofts, and . . . David Geffen?

Posted by: Jon Fine on June 5, 2007

Regarding Rupert Murdoch’s meeting with Dow Jones’ Bancroft family yesterday, ably recounted here by my colleague Ron Grover: What is playing out is a very old and familiar ritual that’s been repeated countless times over the decades at family-owned newspapers. The big corporate buyer comes in, makes nice, and listens to the concerns of said family, some of whom are reluctant to let go of the family jewels, some of whom worry what might happen to the beloved paper with which said family has identified itself for so long.

It’s just happening in a very public way, to a very famous paper, and for a deal measured in billions rather than millions.

Regarding Ron Burkle’s first nascent stirrings of interest in a possible bid for Dow Jones—well, we’ll believe it when we see it. Also we (we? Who’s we? I must mean I. Sorry.) are waiting for Mickey Kaus to weigh in, since he’s long spun feverish fantasies from the combination of Burkle’s famous friends and recent increasing interest in buying media properties.

If Burkle bids—a very big if—it sets up a battle between two proprietors from different sides of the political spectrum. As Slate’s Jack Shafer wrote last year, in a refreshingly nonserious look at potential buyers of the Los Angeles Times:

Southern California is the most pro-labor market in the nation, and not only has Burkle marched with the farm workers, but he’s adored by the union president he negotiated against when he owned local supermarkets. “He’s probably the best employer we ever dealt with,” Ricardo Icaza told the San Francisco Chronicle. …

Burkle identifies heavily with Democrats, chumming with Willie Brown and John Burton, donating to the campaigns of Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and Antonio Villaraigosa, and throwing a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton. He’s also best buddies with Bill Clinton. Compared with Burkle, David Geffen is bipartisan. Could he resist imposing his politics on the paper?

Oh, the fun this could be …

And that’s without factoring in Variety’s speculation about David Geffen.



The media world continues to shapeshift as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. On this blog, Bloomberg Businessweek will provide sharp analysis and timely reports on the transformation of this constantly changing terrain.



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