Just in case you missed it, not too long ago, media mogul, gazillionaire, and all-around Doctor Who supervillain Rupert Murdoch bought Dow Jones & Co., publishers of the Wall Street Journal, among other things. One of the conditions of the sale was that the Dow Jones board include a member of the Bancroft family, who had previously controlled the company since 1902. After much Bancroft family dithering, Murdoch ended up selecting 27-year-old Natalie Bancroft, who was repeatedly described in press reports as—hence her appearance on this blog—an opera singer. Business types dismissed the appointment. But can the girl sing? As prima blogger assoluta La Cieca pointed out, nobody knows.
Well, Condé Nast Portfolio magazine scored an interview with young Ms. Bancroft (if she’s younger than me, she’s young, OK?). Can she sing? Nobody knows, with the exception of reporter Sophia Banay, who was treated to a parking-lot rendition of Rachmaninoff’s op. 4, no. 3 (here’s Jussi Bjoerling’s version). Can she plausibly sit on the Dow Jones board? Nobody knows. The article seems to be going out of its way to paint her as an unblinking naïf:
Ticking off her qualifications to serve on the News Corp. board, [Bancroft] points out that she grew up in Europe, has a flexible schedule (she commutes to Milan for voice classes every few weeks), and sleeps only three to five hours a night. She also says she is multilingual and routinely reads foreign-language newspapers. Instead of being intimidated by the accomplished men who will be her colleagues, she says the prospect thrills her: “I have a much easier time understanding men. I was a tomboy. I love camping. I love sailing. I love doing boy stuff.”
Is she planning to get an M.B.A. to help prepare for the position? “In journalism?” she asks.
Nevertheless, Bancroft is the only woman on the board, which, honesty forces me to admit, automatically makes her the smartest one there. A year from now, Bancroft and former Spanish prime minister José María Aznar will be acting out scenes from Born Yesterday while Murdoch wonders what the hell happened to his company.
By the way, the Portfolio article mentioned Parterre Box in passing, calling it “an opera website run by a drag queen,” which is rather like calling 2001: A Space Odyssey “vacation home movies.” Show some respect!