Saturday, May 16, 2009

Whoops! In 2007, David Carr Said "Not Pretty To Imagine" David Geffen Running A Newspaper.

Today's news that entertainment mogul David Geffen remains "seriously interested" in buying the NYT may remind media reporter David Carr about his past Geffen insults in his weekly column.

We're guessing Geffen remembers them. Or should we say, people who are very familiar with Geffen's thinking remember them.

In his February 26, 2007 column, "Someone Give Geffen A Day Job" -- written while Geffen's $2 billion offer for the Los Angeles Times was still on the table -- here's what Carr wrote about his now-possible future boss:

And then there is Mr. Geffen’s offer to buy The Los Angeles Times for $2 billion. While everyone can give Mr. Geffen credit for his deep understanding of how the news media can be manipulated, few would think of that skill set as congruent with owning a newspaper. (And indeed, his effort hasn’t panned out.) But given what he accomplished with a few sharply conceived quotes to a well-read columnist, it is not hard, and not pretty, to imagine what he could do if he were in charge of one of the country’s most important daily newspapers.

Carr went on to brutally attack Geffen for the nature of his involvement in the 2008 campaign, which he characterized as practically Mafia-like:

Business types love to get involved in politics, of course, but their tactics tend more toward the kind of knee-capping they remember so fondly from their boardroom days.

No one is expecting Mr. Geffen to spend his days golfing, but there is a danger that if the coming election becomes his full-time hobby, his precision ruthlessness will distort the public process. After all, this is not a movie sale, a busted deal or a Don Henley album; this is about the duly elected leader of the United States.

Mr. Geffen and Ron Burkle, another Los Angeles billionaire who is a staunch ally of the Clintons, have already fought for custody of The Los Angeles Times. No one wants to see the presidency treated as a cat toy between rich men who don’t like to lose.

That column followed by only four months another Carr attack on Geffen, in a broader essay decrying the notion of rich businessmen buying newspapers:

So if newspapers in the hands of experienced operators are flailing — the Tribune Company made huge amounts on newspapers before the paradigm shifted — how is it that men who made money selling groceries, building houses or breaking pop music acts will suddenly crack the code?

In that column, Carr came down hard on the idea of billionaire saviors in the news business in general. "The trouble with white knights," he concluded, "is that once they get knocked off their horses, they end up covered in the same mud that mere mortals slog through every day."

That must be the same mud that Carr threw at Geffen a few months later.

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