What I Meant to Say…
by Geoff Kelly - posted 11:53 am, May 5, 2009
Yesterday, BuffaloPundit posted Warren Buffett’s less-than-enthusiastic assessment of the American newspaper industry, offered during Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting:
“For most newspapers in the United States, we would not buy them at any price…they have the possibility of going to just unending losses.”
The Buffalo News, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, neglected to include that comment in its account of its parent company’s annual meeting.
Today, however, the News managed to dig up and publish these comments from Buffett, his right-hand man Charles Munger, and his billionaire friend Bill Gates:
The ailing newspaper business got an endorsement Monday from three of the wealthiest men in America—Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett and Charles Munger, and Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates—as they talked business in Omaha with anchor Liz Claman on Fox Business News.
After Claman noted that Berkshire Hathaway has “a significant position in newspapers”—The Buffalo News and The Washington Post—and that this is “not an expanding and growth sector now,” it was Munger who first stepped forward in defense.
“We have this system where we have some investments that we don’t discard them because they’re declining,” Munger explained. “We have some things that we’re faithful to, that we’re married to, so to speak.”
And it was Gates who offered the best perspective on the Berkshire Hathaway newspaper holdings, acknowledging the many areas The Washington Post has entered and noting that “The Buffalo News has handled the challenges, working with their unions, and figured out how to move forward as well as any newspaper company.”
Most likely, Buffett recognized that it was in his best interest to temper what he’d said about newspapers over the weekend, given his stake in thr Washington Post and his ownership of the News.
But why did the Buffalo News choose to strip these remarks of their context by failing to acknowledge the gloomy prognosis Buffett offered over the weekend?