The share market crunch yesterday took much of the attention away from what should have been a glorious triumph for Rupert Murdoch as he landed Dow Jones and even enjoyed a warm reception from his investors as News Corp shares gained 53c to $27.02 this morning.

However, you get a sense that a sensitive control freak like the Sun King has been quite rattled by all the attention of recent months where his reputation in the US has been put through the shredder.

The Journal itself has spectacularly covered the sale of its own company, breaking every twist and turn before its competitors, ventilating every last spray about Rupert and forensically leading the charge on his shoddy editorial record.

The top half of the home page was yesterday devoted to every angle of the deal, including a long list of posts from readers threatening to cancel their subscriptions.

Rupert would be relieved that most of this coverage has now disappeared behind the subscription wall, including all the detail about a promised $US30 million inducement to wavering members of the Bancroft family.

Martin Peers, an Australian who has picked up a Pulitzer for The Journal and once worked for Communist Party of Australia’s organ, The Tribune, has covered Murdoch for more than 20 years and produced today’s main story for the website.

Peers was granted access to the Sun King, who wasn’t generally available elsewhere yesterday, and also revealed that only 170 subscribers had followed through with their threats and actually cancelled subscriptions so far.

The merger is expected to close in three month, just after Rupert chairs the 2007 News Corp AGM where a key focus is expected to be the very same undemocratic two-tiered voting structure that almost denied him Dow Jones.

As for the Bancrofts, they should go off and form the basis of a successor series to Dynasty, such has been the extraordinary soap opera that unfolded in recent weeks.

Whilst a Bancroft hasn’t run Dow Jones for more than 70 years, family member William Cox, who has worked for the company his entire life, collapsed with a diabetic shock and was taken to hospital just as the final deal was being hammered out.

James Ottoway labelled Murdoch’s inducement payments, including an $18 million whack to Merrill Lynch for their advice to some family members, a “disgrace” and Leslie Hill resigned in a fit of pique from the Dow Jones board yesterday, whilst other family members were still spinning over the 4000 word email spray from Crawford Hill endorsing the sale. For all the bad blood, at least they’ll share in $US1.2 billion from Rupert.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey