Last Friday, Alibaba (ticker BABA), the Chinese e-commerce Leviathan with a $200 billion market cap, announced that it was buying the South China Morning Post (“SCMP”), Hong Kong’s biggest English-language newspaper. The 112-year-old broadsheet is popular for its English-language format and the editorial board’s intrepid reputation (or life-threatening stupidity/naiveté) for covering not only political contretemps on mainland China but also the Communist Party’s gobsmackingly disgraceful suppression of human rights, topics from which mainland journalists understandably shy away for fear of being “disappeared.”
Laying it on extra thick, as would any self-respecting grifter, Joe Tsai, Alibaba’s no doubt unironically titled Vice Chairman, reassured SCMP’s readers in a press release:
In reporting the news, the SCMP will be objective, accurate and fair. This means having the courage to go against conventional wisdom, and taking care to verify stories, check sources and seek all viewpoints. These day-to-day editorial decisions will be driven by editors in the newsroom, not in the corporate boardroom.
Frankly, we at Bud Fox News have reason to believe that the SCMP’s independence is in jeopardy: A whilom BFN summer intern who now works at the paper has leaked to us the SCMP’s headlines for the next six days as ‘suggested’ by Alibaba’s Chairman Jack Ma (just one letter off from a mass murderer!). A quick glance at the list gives one pause:
- Tiananmen Square Protester Alumni Happier Than Ever
- US Admits Democracy Experiment Has Failed, Will Begin Taking Over Means of Production
- United Nations Grants Control of Entire South China Sea to China in Exchange for Unlimited Take-Out
- Independent Review Declares Chinese Press Freest in World
- Chinese Economy Grows 12%, 100% of Population Above Poverty Line
- Obama Admits: I Bowed to President Xi Jinping
When asked for comment about BABA’s newspaper purchase, Dum Gai, Professor of Asian Studies at Northeast Camden Military School and author of the soon-to-be-published General Tso Was a Chicken, had this to say:
I smell a rat. They say they’re going to drop the paper’s online paywall [BFN: here], which is just brilliant. You better have bullet-proof anti-virus protection if you visit that site because pow, just like that, Alibaba will have your computer rigged with surveillance spyware so good it’ll take your temperature from across the room.
Chairmen Ma and Mao would be proud.