The Not So Private Life of Citizen Murdoch

There isn’t much new personal light shed on octogenarian Rupert Murdoch, except that his own conduct of business affairs is splashed all over the media outlets on a daily basis, with the latest developments of the News Corp empire, also lovingly known as FOTHOM (Fall of the house of Murdoch). It seems that the old man has trodden on too many feet over his long reign as a ruthless press baron and now the FBI and other governmental agencies, both in the USA and the UK, are closing in as the company has been beset by further allegations of hacking and gross corruption. Business as usual, you might say.

Earlier this year the withdrawal of a bid to take full control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB, the arrests of numerous Sun journalists, including Rebecca Brooks, and the resignation of Murdoch’s son James from several directorships are just the first arrows slung into the mammoth media beast. The first charges for phone hacking itself came two weeks ago, as prosecutors charged Andy Coulson, a former aide to British Prime Minister David Cameron (and a close confidant of Murdoch), and Rebekah Brooks, his former chief executive of News International. There is more to come, much more.

To add to his chagrin a lawyer at the center of phone-hacking litigation has warned that claims could also be brought against News Corporation in the US. Yet despite his company’s involvement in several inquiries and police operations, the 81 years old magnate has taken an increasingly hands-on approach to its problems and even took to Twitter – reaching out to supporters and attacking further allegations against the company.

The Guardian reported that London Mayor Boris Johnson had invited Rupert M and Wendi Deng to a “schmoozathon” with other business leaders at the high-profile event swimming event:

The first problem is that the Mayor is the titular head of Scotland Yard which is currently pursuing three investigations in the business of which Mr. R is the head. The second problem is that for ten months, the Mayor failed to report that he had dropped in on the Murdoch’s for dinner two days before Scotland Yard launched the first of those inquiries/operations.

Even Wiki has a page dedicated to the hacking scandal.

Shorter Murdoch: born in Australia in 1931. Following his father’s death, when he was 21, Murdoch returned from Oxford to take charge of the family business, News Limited, which had been established in 1923 with its newspaper, Adelaide News. He wasted little time acquiring a string of regional newspapers, book publishing and music distribution before moving into New Zealand then UK’s Fleet Street, followed by his ultimate goal: the United States. He had a natural flair for popular journalism and a tendency to fall out with his editors although he spent much of his career denying he interfered too much: “I think that I give my editors tremendous freedom and the only people who claim that I don’t give them enough freedom now are the people who wouldn’t know how to use it,” he once said.

It can be said that he made his fortune peddling pictures of bare breasted girls on the notorious page three in some of his rags before moving to the world’s disinformation outlet: Fox News, where They Decide, and You Comply.

Here is a short video from the excellent UK Guardian, explaining his rise from a single newspaper owner to his crushing of the UK unions to launching the dreaded Fox News:

This week we have lost two great writers, Gore Vidal and Maeve Binchy. I am personally saddened by the loss of Mr Vidal whose work I devoured, and considered him one of the greatest American writers as well as a formidable wit. He was not just a Man of Letters but also a screenwriter, dramatist, historian, political philosopher, actor, orator and one of the best essayist in the English language, IMHO.

He ran for Congress as a Democrat, appeared effectively in Tim Robbins’ “Bob Roberts” as a senator like Eugene McCarthy, and in “Fellini Roma” as himself. He was, by repute the most accomplished conversationalist of his time and his literary feuds are legendary. When Norman Mailer punched him in the CBS Green Room he remarked, “I at last encountered Norman’s tiny fist. As usual, words failed him.”

I had met him briefly in the corridors of the William Morris agency in the mid eighties, where he had been visiting a friend who was a powerful agent, also a friend of mine. I was at the time pursuing the rights of “Messiah”, his seminal novel written in 1948, about a futuristic, suicidal cult/religion satire in which there is a whimsical character who is two thousand years old. When my friend mentioned to him that I was the producer interested in his novel, he smiled warmly and said “I reserve the right to cast Clarissa. After all, she is my oldest character.” He shook my hand firmly and left.

Gore Vidal was known for his bon mots, and he kept them coming, never disappointing:

“All children alarm their parents, if only because you are forever expecting to encounter yourself.”

“Fifty percent of people won’t vote, and fifty percent don’t read newspapers. I hope it’s the same fifty percent.”

“Some writers take to drink, others take to audiences.”

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”

“The four most beautiful words in our common language: I told you so.”

“Sex is. There is nothing more to be done about it. Sex builds no roads, writes no novels and sex certainly gives no meaning to anything in life but itself.”

“There is no such thing as a homosexual or a heterosexual person. There are only homo- or heterosexual acts. Most people are a mixture of impulses if not practices.”

There isn’t much that I know about Maeve Binchy. I have read one book and saw its dramatization on film, “A Circle of Friends”, a beautiful story set in the fifties around a group of young adults, coping with all the sexual taboos. I shall read her more.

This entry was posted in History, Memoirs, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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