Well, there goes the Wall Street Journal again. In a paywalled opinion piece (just Google “All Along the Apple Watchtower” to read it), the Journal once again takes aim at Apple anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich.

The editorial complains, among other things, of Bromwich’s $1,100 per hour fee being too high, that he’s ranging farther afield than his mandate should allow, that he’s in bed with the Justice Department, and, of course, that he’s a close personal friend of Judge Cote.

It really is a piece of work. For example, giving Bromwich’s rates in isolation, and the $2.35 million he’s charged for his work so far, certainly gives the impression that he’s out for all he can get. But on the other hand, when you know that most lawyers in Bromwich’s class (including Apple’s own defense team) charge similar rates for their legal work, and that $2.35 million is almost certainly dwarfed by Apple’s spending in its own defense, it throws things into a new light.

I’ve checked Google News. I don’t see any other major news sources carrying this story, apart from some other blogs that are reporting on the WSJ’s hit piece. I think it’s worth reiterating that the Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and Murdoch and his son James were both involved in the conspiracy to implement agency pricing. Their names come up several times in Judge Cote’s opinion. And even apart from that, the WSJ has always been a bit cozy with Apple, often carrying “leaks” and items about Apple’s upcoming products. Remember, it was then-WSJ reporter Walt Mossberg who elicited the infamous “They’ll be the same price” quote from Steve Jobs. The paper can hardly be considered unbiased in this regard.

The Journal is also carrying excerpts from a transcript of December 15 oral arguments (also paywalled; Google the headline to read) concerning the appeal, making it sound like the appeals court is skeptical of Cote’s ruling. (We covered the arguments at the time.) Even leaving aside that the WSJ was free to cherry-pick the questions and answers supporting its view, it’s very risky prognosticating a court’s actual views from the testimony. The court has tended to side with Judge Cote up to this point, and it’s a judge’s job to play devil’s advocate and consider the question from all sides.

We’ll know more when the appeal trial kicks into gear next month. Regardless, I have a strong suspicion this case is going to go all the way to the Supreme Court, no matter who prevails on appeal.


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