NEW YORK: A possible White Knight has emerged in the unfolding saga of Bad Baron Rupert and the Bancroft Babes in the Wood. Enter frame left on a snowy charger the noble chevalier Ron Burkle, a California billionaire.

Burkle is said to have close connections to Bill and Hilary Clinton - and is also the heroic champion of the Wall Street Journal's staff union, the Independent Association of Publishers' Employees.

His possible intervention was revealed by anxious union boss Steve Yount, who opines: "We don't believe a sale to Mr Murdoch is a done deal."

Burkle, a former supermarket entrepreneur, has a personal fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at around $2.15bn - pockets well-lined but unlikely to be sufficiently deep if it comes to a dollar joust with Bad Baron Rupert.

But if Burkle decides to make a move it is unlikely he will do so alone. Dow Jones staff and the WSJ editorial team are not the only folk worried by a possible News Corporation takeover.

Any rightward move by the WSJ - feared by many to be inevitable if NewsCorp wins the day - would be equally bad news for America's Democratic Party, already confronted by the Bad Baron's snarling squires on Fox News and newspapers under his control such as the New York Post.

The rumor mill has it that any counterbid for Dow Jones would not only have the support of the Democrats but also such liberally-inclined investors as Warren Buffet.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff