WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. (TheStreet) -- Break out the bubbly: Microsoft (MSFT) is bidding for Yahoo! (YHOO)! Wait! You didn't pop the cork yet, did you? Turns out, Microsoft is, uh, not bidding on Yahoo! Not even close. What's going on? Well, just another day in business media land.

Here's the deal: Reuters came out with an exclusive yesterday about a possible, theoretical maybe-deal between Microsoft and Yahoo!, trumpeting the "scoop," as it were, in the headline: "Exclusive: Microsoft considers bidding for Yahoo."

About the same time, Bloomberg ran a headline that implied just a slightly different outcome: "Microsoft Is Said to Be Nowhere Close to Making a Bid for Web Portal Yahoo."

Who is right? When it comes to the magical mystery tour that is the merger-games, no one knows for certain. What happens often, however, when companies put themselves up for sale is that others in their industry take a cursory look. Too often, this is woven into a tale of impending purchase. Indications are: this is what happened here.

Reuters refers to "sources close to the situation." This often means investment bankers, always apt to drum up interest by leaking to the media. Even the word "considers" in the headline might be a tip-off. The world of mergers is like a singles bar: everyone is "considering" everyone to some degree. But it's a long way between considering and going home together.

Bloomberg seems to point in this direction. Senior Microsoft executives, they say, are not involved in the discussions, par for the course for a cursory review of someone in your field. Bloomberg covers the other side, too, mentioning that Yahoo! does not consider Microsoft a realistic suitor, which fits the pattern of a plain-old review sold by the media as hot and heavy interest.

At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.

For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

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