Update (4:22 p.m. EST): Via email, a spokesman for Financial Times parent Pearson supplies that company's official statement: "The FT is a very valued and valuable part of Pearson. It is not for sale."
Update (1:54 p.m. EST): Politico's Dylan Byers poured cold water on the story after receiving a couple messages from Reuters staffers who wrote in to say the Financial Times acquisition rumor's old and not very reliable:
"That rumor has been around for years," one senior staffer told me. "Wolff hedges quite a bit... It appears he says with some certainty that talks are now on, then says it's very informal, then says it might not amount to anything."
"Some version of the FT rumor has been floating around for a long time," another wrote. "Much depends on what the selling price would be, and whether the Thomson Reuters board and shareholders, who've been dealing with an underperforming stock for some time, would be willing to support it."
Original: A minor slip-up in Michael Wolff's latest Guardian column about a possible Reuters deal to acquire British business daily The Financial Times would still make us pretty nervous to dine with the columnist -- not that we've been invited. Wolff wrote that he came across this piece of media gossip during lunch. Wolff doesn't have much other reporting to back up his claim that the recently high-spending news wire is interested in setting up a rival to The Wall Street Journal. But we noticed that he tried to disguise his dining companion's gender: "I should qualify my source: he or she is not from the deal-making side (where they keep their mouths shut or, at least, more carefully confide), but someone likely to be consulted by the deal-making side. My source, by the way, has been usefully loose-lipped before, when in the woe-is-me-what's-going-to-happen-to-us mood of so many media people." Putting the burning-your-source-as-a-blabbermouth aside for the moment, notice that later in the column Wolff uses a male pronoun: "True, my companion clearly wishes for an FT or WSJ acquisition by Thomson Reuters to be true; so wishfulness may be coloring his sense of corporate ambition and the likelihood of a transaction." Again, it's a totally minor slip-up, but perhaps enough to worry the person whose identity was trying to be kept secret (at least it would worry us). And other readers certainly picked up on the looseness of the conversation. "Your friend might want to drink a bit less wine at lunchtime if he's prone to revealing such confidential information," one wrote. And Wolff's going to want to get ahold of his pronouns before any second lunch date.