Times Spokesman Has Fighting Words for His Former Employer

A nugget in today’s New York Observer story on the impending war between The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal leaves no doubt about the allegiances of Times spokesman Bob Christie, who joined the paper from Journal parent Dow Jones in March.

Christie came out guns-a-blazing in speaking to the Observer about the Journal‘s nose-thumbing use of Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger’s face in a recent weekend feature on feminine-looking men:

“We have moved on,” said Mr. Christie, the Times spokesman. “And we are focused on the high-quality journalism that we produce every day and that’s why we won three Pulitzers on Monday. The readers and employees of The Wall Street Journal deserve much better than this type of juvenile behavior from its editor in chief.”

Ouch. Christie flaunts the Times‘ Pulitzers right in the face of the Journal, a former Pulitzer juggernaut that hasn’t won the prize since 2007. Talk about biting the hand that fed you (but now belongs to an obnoxious neighbor who’s expanding his house into your new master’s backyard).

The Christie quip comes from conflicting accounts of a meeting between Sulzberger and Journal managing editor Robert Thomson. Thomson says he and Sulzberger laughed about the weekend Journal‘s girly-man gag. Christie says Thomson disavowed prior knowledge of the prank to Sulzberger and even said the face in question didn’t belong to the Times publisher. But when Sulzberger asked for a clarification, Thomson declined.

All this heated talk comes in the context of the Journal‘s forthcoming New York metro section, a direct challenge to the Times‘ reader and advertiser base.

Thomson tells the Observer that the Journal hopes to use its new section as a gateway through which to reach Times readers:

“Obviously, our ambition is that people will come in through New York and they’ll take a look at us, they’ll sample us and then they’ll discover how much we’ve broadened the national and international coverage,” he said.

There’s no mistaking the personal element of the Journal‘s campaign against the Times; we’re in the middle of a good old-fashioned turf war, folks, so let’s enjoy the spectacle.

For more Bob Christie coverage, check out our sister site, PRNewser.

Publish date: April 14, 2010 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/times-spokesman-has-fighting-words-for-his-former-employer/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT