WASHINGTON: After a contentious trial, a federal judge has approved the Washington Post and New York Times’ merger with the Dept. of Defense. Judge Samuel Harveston agreed that the merger was necessary for the beleaguered companies to survive. Declining ad revenues, obsolete “old school” journalistic standards, and ancient, leaky buildings were cited as factors favoring the historic merger, which will be physical as well as notional — the staff of both papers will occupy a wing in the Pentagon building.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of the Post’s parent company, lauded the decision: “We’re thrilled to join the DOD, flagship of one of America’s leading growth industries. Our joint news operations will hum a lot more efficiently now. We’re particularly looking forward to meshing with the Pentagon’s sophisticated accounting department. There’s nothing in the private sector quite like it. Bottom line? Well, the bottom line is the bottom line — we’re confident the leaks will be stanched and we’ll keep our ships floating higher in these turbulent waters.”
A spokesman for the Media Matters, Dwight Icenbower, is not so thrilled: “The farce is over. The only question is what color their new uniforms will be. Probably yellow. I don’t see how the Times and Post can maintain any semblance of independence now.”
Could the intimate physical proximity really jeopardize the papers’ independence? “No, not at all,” argues Times’ editor Xavier Landschwager. “We and the Post will be occupying that wing destroyed by the 9/11 attacks. It’s been totally rebuilt with bomber firewalls. Except for nearby bathrooms, there will be no commingling of generals and admirals with editors and writers. We’ll have separate entrances/exits, snack rooms, and even parking lots. So please, let’s dispense with all the conspiracy theories.”
“Ah yes, those common bathrooms. There’s the rub,” says Mr. Icenbower. But Mr. Landschwager was quick to dismiss their significance: “I’m standing at a urinal next to a Marine colonel who gives me a hot tip about a successful drone strike in Helmland province… what am I supposed to do — piss on it? The whole arrangement is going to save us a helluva lot of footwork.”
Other critics wonder about the Post and Times independence from each other, being cheek by jowl in the same wing. “There’s a single shared window between the two office complexes,” said Mr. Landschwager. “Completely covered by Venetian blinds on both sides. So that’s a double blind situation — the gold standard for any kind of scientific-like work. And if we peek through occasionally to give a friendly nod to our colleagues and rivals next door? Well, if that’s problem, I’ll eat New York Times vs. United States and dump the turd in that shared bathroom.”
“Not a bad idea at all,” responded Pentagon PR manager, Helmut Blitzer, who also extolled the benefits of the merger from his perspective: “Journalistic embedment — if that’s a word — is one of the great success stories of the last 15 years. Now we’re just taking it to the next level. Frankly, a lot of folks around here are still pissed off about Walter Cronkite losing the Vietnam war. But the merger proves one thing — it’s never too late for the Fourth Estate to make amends.”