By Stephen Witt
Mike Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch would make great street hustlers. Especially with the three-card monte game these two media moguls are playing with the Department of Education’s chancellor job.
The old “watch the green pea” trick comes after Joel Klein stepped down as chancellor two weeks ago and was replaced by Cathie Black, an executive at Hearst Publishing. Klein, a corporate lawyer, quit the $250,000-a-year post to work for Murdoch and head his new educational product division – most probably at a considerable raise. Black had previously worked for Murdoch when he owned New York Magazine.
Now I’m not sure if the two billionaires ever discussed the transaction before the announcement, but if they did, the telephone conversation may have gone something like this.
“Hey Mate. Rupert here. How’s the business of government?”
“Heh, heh, it’s good to be king. So what can I do you for?”
“I’d like to discuss your boy, Joel Klein.”
“Yes. Joel’s a good man. Doing a bang up job heading the Department of Education. What about him?”
“He’s coming over to work for me in our new educational product division. I reckon now that Joel’s been seasoned in the educational game he could get us some of that $26 billion that the you are throwing at those kids.’
“I feel you Rupert. Every penny counts. But it does leave me in a pickle in finding Joel’s replacement.”
“Not to worry, Mike. I have the perfect replacement. Cathie Black. She used to work for me when I owned New York Magazine.”
“Great idea, Rupert, I’ve known Cathie for years. She throws the best Park Avenue parties. I’ll have to get her a waiver like Joel, but they’ll form a committee to get it done.”
“But isn’t a committee dangerous?”
“Come on Rupert. We’ll round up the usual suspects. Of course that still leads me with the diversity issue.”
“What diversity issue?”
“You know Rupert. I can hear it now. People of color, yada, yada, yada. Seventy-one percent cent of the students being black and Hispanic. Yada, yada, yada. I hear this all the time.”
“People of color…. Hmm, I don’t know how you work like this, Mike.. Wait a minute. Her name is black. How black does she have to be?”
“Just black enough, Rupert. Just black enough.”