Editor’s note: Conrad Black drama just another trial of the century

We know who lost the Conrad Black trial. Care to guess who won?

Only a month since Conrad Black’s Friday the 13th, and already it seems something of a distant memory. Of course, for Black and his co-convicted, the nightmare isn’t over yet. And as sentencing on Nov. 30 approaches, the Black saga remains a good story. But did the Trial of the Century really live up to its billing? Before and during, the media did its damnedest to turn the event into a trend story—you know, how it represented the last gasp of the Corporate Governance Zealotry Beast, or embodied some sort of class war waged by the U.S. justice system. Others suggested the fact that charges were brought at all was simply a sign of these allegedly anti-entrepreneurial times. The purveyors of public opinion actually seemed to believe Black et al. were being tried in the court of public opinion. In the end, none of this blather mattered. The charges against Black were real, and fully within the ken of the Chicago jury, which concluded that they had been laid because Black actually did the crimes, and not because the government of the United States of America has a hate-on for wealthy conservatives. In short, they determined that Black was just another crook, caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Hardly the stuff on which to build a Weltanschauung. One man who must be gloating is Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born lord of News Corp., who recently convinced the board of directors of Dow Jones & Co., owner of the The Wall Street Journal, to hand over the keys to the kingdom. Murdoch and Black, of course, have history. Beginning in the early ’90s, Murdoch’s London daily The Times waged a savage, price-cutting circulation war with Black’s Daily Telegraph that lasted a decade. Who emerged as the victor? Well, on the circulation numbers, both sides claimed victory. But as Murdoch prepares to take the venerable WSJ and turn it into an international business media powerhouse, and as Black, who lost control of the Telegraph as his legal woes intensified, cools it in Chicago—well, there’s no doubt who won the long game.