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Wall Street Journal owner Rupert Murdoch made no bones about his desire to disrupt The New York Times' business. Now he's making the rivalry personal. In a weekend WSJ story, media writer Michael Wolff picks out a petty swipe at Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger: in an article about women in healthy countries preferring more feminine men, the bottom half of Sulzberger's face is used in an illustration. The five other images in the illustration are credited to Getty Images--that one New York Times credit may have been the tip-off. "Just imagine," writes Wolff, "what Young Arthur felt this morning when he saw the lower quadrant of his face in the Journal representing the archetypal girly-man."

Does The New York Times have a similar record of provocation? It's not clear. A quick skim through their Murdoch coverage reveals a story on the Journal's "attempt to eat into The Times's mass-market audience and lure away some of its luxury advertisers," but that's hardly mean-spirited. The nearest match may come in David Carr's slight mockery of the media mogul when reporting on Murdoch's acquisition of MySpace in 2005--well before this "very nasty newspaper war" began. Carr refers to Murdoch as MySpace's "rich, doting relative named Rupert," and dubs him the "dad at the teenagers' party, working hard to fit in." In a more recent article from the past summer, Carr suggests Murdoch's bold move towards a pay wall may not be greeted by the "hearty applause" he was hoping for, but rather by "crickets chirping."

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