Start the countdown on a New York Times sale

More interesting is the discreet silence among all the media analysts about the obvious question: how long until the Sulzberger family follows the Graham family (who followed the Bancroft family in selling the Wall Street Journal) in selling the New York Times while it’s still worth something? Does anyone really think the Graham family wanted to sell the Post? Of course not. It was the cornerstone of their social status and clout. (As Post columnist Ruth Marcus put it without the slightest trace of self-awareness: “Their identity is so inextricably bound up with that of the newspaper, and the newspaper with that of the Graham family, it is — or at least it was until Monday afternoon — unimaginable to consider the two as separate entities.” Also this: ”My e-mail has been buzzing, my phone ringing, with family, friends, government officials, asking the same question: Are you okay? They don’t mean economically. They mean emotionally. The answer: Not really.” Yes, Ruth, because it’s all about you. Also: sympathetic e-mails from “government officials“? Yeah, we’re not cozy with our sources here at the Post, are we Ruth? That’s some real adversarial journalism for ya.)

But social status and clout go out the window if you’re not rich any more. The Post would surely have sold for a billion dollars as recently as a decade ago, instead of this week’s $250 million. A decade from now, it could be worth as little as Newsweek, which the Grahams once owned and sold for $1.