Sunday, April 13, 2008

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair's current issue has Madonna on the cover, holding a globe. Some explanatory matter inside says the editors think she looks like a "sexy 21st century Atlas."

As Jon Stewart might say, "nnnnn ... not so much." The pose has her holding the globe not on her shoulders but a bit lower, literally against her spine, so that it appears that the globe is in the midst of an invisible stream that is about to wash her and it forward out of the frame of the picture, in the reader/viewer's direction.

But let's look into the magazine's contents. For this issue also contains an article by Michael Wolff, called The War on the Times. Wolff discusses recent challenges to the Sulzberger family's hegemony over the corporate structure of the NYT, challenges that I have also discussed on this blog.

For the most part, Wolff just seems mean-spirited on the subject, as if he believes that the Sulzberger-guided institution is one of enormous value to the public welfare, and he can best serve that welfare by bad-mouthing real or potential threats thereto.

"The folks at the threatening hedge funds ... certainly have no legitimacy beyond their money. (Besides waging nuisance proxy fights, and having founded a sputtering dotcom company, Galloway, the front man for the charge, seems, mainly, to teach a business-school class at N.Y.U.) The Times's initial reaction was to treat them with the contempt they seem to deserve."

And much more in that line.

What kind of "legitimacy" does one need to own an interest in a newspaper? And is teaching a business-school class at the Stern School of Business, New York University, some kind of resume stain?

Galloway's dotcom company, RedEnvelope (OTC: REDE) has had its "sputterings," but has proven more resilient than many of the other species of that particular genus.

Galloway didn't seek to takeover the Times. He sought a voice. And he won that particular fight, getting a seat on the board. Will he be a destructive force from within, as Wolff seems to suggest? Why would he do that? because he thinks he has too much money?

The whole thing doesn't make a lot of sense. But hey, that's show biz.

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