In a weekend conversation with wealthy supporters that was closed to reporters, Bill Clinton was asked about Rupert Murdoch's takeover of the Wall Street Journal.
"With regard to media consolidation, the rules were relaxed too much," Clinton said during his Million Dollar Hamptons fundraising marathon this last weekend.
"Anti-trust law should apply. I think we shouldn't have abandoned the fairness law; if a media outlet were pushing a particular political point of view...then you had a right to demand the opposite point of view. The airwaves belong to the public, not to anybody, particularly not to Fox News.
"But having said all that, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is even more right wing and irrational than most of the commentators on Fox News.
"And completely predictable...it's like Pavlov's dogs.
"The WSJ editorial board began attacking a major American corporation in the US every day in the editorial page.
"The representative of the corporation set up a meeting with the editorial board.
"And he said, 'I have brought my books here...I have never done this for anybody...I am going to show you why what you are saying is wrong.'
"He got about two minutes into his presentation and the whole editorial board said, 'wait a minute...we don't care...we attacked you because you are supporting Bill Clinton. We don't believe that a big American corporation should support Bill Clinton.'
"He said, 'if I stop supporting him, will you quit attacking me?'
"Absolutely," they replied.
"The guy called me and...I said...send a check to Bob Dole!
"He sent a check to Bob Dole, and announced it in the newspapers, and the WSJ never said one bad word about his company again.
"This is the pre-Murdoch Wall Street Journal.
"On the other hand, to the best of my knowledge, they never once compromised the journalistic integrity of its reporters. It was, in other words, an old-fashioned newspaper with honest reporters and honest research.
"I never gave a rip what their editorial page said, because I knew what they were going to say. But I read their news articles diligently.
"I have a democratic friend who does some business with Rupert Murdoch. I told him I would never oppose this, as long as Mr. Murdoch makes a promise not to interfere with the news coverage.
"In other words, don't do that 'Fair and Balanced' Fox deal on the newspapers. If he leaves the newspaper alone, there is no way he can become any more ideologically to the right than the current editorial policy of the current Wall Street Journal."
Unfortunately for Bill Clinton, according to the finer points of the editorial agreement between Murdoch and Dow Jones, Paul Gigot, who currently runs the ultra-right editorial page, is granted full authority over op-ed articles and editorials. Murdoch is a more pragmatic, flexible conservative, who may yet win over or muscle the more ideological Gigot. Murdoch is friendly with Mayor Bloomberg and held a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton at his corporate headquarters. His other newspaper, The New York Post, endorsed Hillary in her last senate race. firstname.lastname@example.org