The late Mike Royko, for all his faults, was one of the best newspaper columnists in American history.
Wryly lampooning the movers and shakers in business and politics was Royko’s stock-in-trade. There can be doubt that he would have especially enjoyed turning his proverbial guns on the now-scandal-plagued media mogul Rupert Murdoch, for whom Royko had a special disdain.
Roger Ebert RECALLS Royko’s reaction to Murdoch’s takeover of the Chicago Sun-Times — and adds these jabs of his own at the man to whom Royko referred as “The Alien.”:
[Murdoch] landed on the Chicago Sun-Times like a bug-eyed monster from outer space and extruded poisonous slime. I was an eyewitness.
Under the leadership of publisher James Hoge, the paper had won six Pulitzers and should have won another one (for the ingenious idea of opening a bar named the Mirage and baiting it to attract the flies of Chicago corruption). Hoge had just overseen a redesign of the paper that made it then (and in my opinion still) the most elegant tabloid I had ever seen.
The Sun-Times was poised on the edge of something great.
On the first day of Murdoch’s ownership, he walked into the newsroom and we all gathered around and he recited the usual blather and rolled up his shirtsleeves and started to lay out a new front page. Well, he was a real newspaperman, give him that. He threw out every meticulous detail of the beautiful design, ordered up big, garish headlines, and gave big play to a story about a North Shore rabbi accused of holding a sex slave…The Sun-Times, which had been placing above the Tribune in lists of the 10 best U.S. newspapers, never took that great step it was poised for.
It is therefore with a great deal of satisfaction that I observe the Alien’s current troubles. This man has done more to harm journalism in America and Britain than any other person. I cannot speak for Australia. In the U.S., where his newspaper holdings are limited to the New York Post and the (actually good) Wall Street Journal, his damage has been done with Fox News, the first deliberately and unapologetically biased and partisan network in American history.