So the revelation in FT Weekend’s interview with David Cornwell, better known as John Le Carré, that Mr Murdoch once lunched with the master espionage novelist is a delicious one. Mr Le Carré is no fan of the media mogul, telling one interviewer in 2010 (even before the phone hacking scandal engulfed News Corp) that his empire was guilty of “pretty horrendous manipulation of the media” and “enormous intrusions into our domestic affairs”.
But some years ago, he relates in the FT interview, he met the proprietor of The Times, after taking offence at one of the newspaper’s stories about him.
Good old Warren Buffett and his folksy ways. A bunch of newspapers like the Clinch Valley News, the Hickory Daily Record and the Goochland Gazette will fit right in alongside Dairy Queen and See’s candies in Berkshire Hathaway’s collection of quaint Americana.
It’s nice to see a well-meaning billionaire sparing $142m in small change for the hard-hit community newspaper trade, particularly one who still likes to talk about the lessons he learned on his childhood paper route. As he sang to the Omaha Press Club a few weeks ago, “I’m only a paperboy.”
But look a little closer and it becomes clear that Thursday’s deal for most of Media General’s publications is as rational and opportunistic as any of Mr Buffett’s bigger deals.