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FINAL SAY: A war of words broke out Monday between The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times after Times media columnist David Carr called out the Journal for the conservative, anti-Obama tone the paper has taken in recent months. Carr spoke with several former staffers on the record and current staffers that spoke on background for his Monday column, and surmised that managing editor Robert Thomson and deputy managing editor Gerard Baker “have had a big impact on the paper’s Washington coverage, adopting a more conservative tone, and editing and headlining articles to reflect a chronic skepticism of the current administration.”
Thomson wasn’t conservative in his harsh words for Carr, firing off a passionate reaction Monday morning: “The news column by a Mr. David Carr today is yet more evidence that The New York Times is uncomfortable about the rise of an increasingly successful rival while its own circulation and credibility are in retreat. The usual practice of quoting ex-employees was supplemented by a succession of anonymous quotes and unsubstantiated assertions.”
He went on to accuse executive editor Bill Keller of a smear campaign against the Journal to prevent the paper from winning journalism awards. “The attack follows the extraordinary actions of Mr. Bill Keller, the executive editor, who, among other things, last year wrote personally and at length to a prize committee casting aspersions on Journal journalists and journalism. Whether it be in the quest for prizes or in the disparagement of competitors, principle is but a bystander at The New York Times,” wrote Thomson.
The two papers have been in a battle for domination of circulation and news gathering since Rupert Murdoch bought the Journal two years ago, with the Journal broadening its coverage to include sports, pop culture and arts to make it more of a general interest paper akin to the Times, not just a business journal. Keller responded to Thomson in his own statement: “While David’s column clearly got under Mr. Thomson’s skin, I don’t see anything in this response that casts doubt upon it. The column was scrupulously fair and, if anything, understated, and I have no inclination to help Mr. Thomson change the subject.” Carr summed up his reaction to the critics of his column on his Twitter feed: “do not agree.”
Meanwhile, the Journal’s Nik Deogun, who is the international editor and a deputy managing editor, is leaving the paper to become the managing editor of CNBC. Deogun succeeds Tyler Mathisen, who will anchor the network’s “Power Lunch” program permanently. The Journal moved Rebecca Blumenstein over from WSJ.com to succeed Deogun. The New York Times first reported the shifts on its Web site.