How I started following Rupert Murdoch

REALLY bad career moves? I’ve got it completely covered.

Decyphering Rupert Murdoch is like doing a cryptic crossword. You either get this stuff or you don’t. His influence on world media, and the power that gives him, is so pervasive that keeping track of his latest moves is a legitimate, and I believe important, exercise. It’s a job, it’s a story, it’s nothing personal. But in such a pursuit, one thing is clear: you need to put your own personal history clearly on the table.

I almost worked for Rupert Murdoch. For ten minutes I regarded myself as virtually on the staff. Continue reading

Rupert’s sweetest deal of all was at his family’s expense

Murdoch biographers don’t ever get into this stuff, but the biggest threat to Rupert Murdoch’s control of News Corp was always his family. Sir Keith Murdoch left his son only 28 per cent of Cruden Investments, the holding company for the family’s holding in News Limited. Today the family holding is worth $US11.7 billion, but Rupert holds all of it. He’s done some peachy deals in his time, but none as good as the ones he did with his sisters. I wrote this 20 years ago, and it remains unexplored territory. (The super shares referred to here became News Corp’s limited-voting A stock.) Note the crazy suggestion in the intro that Murdoch at 62 was “in the last decade of his working life”. What was I thinking? It clearly speaks of inadequate levels of gin. Continue reading

A footnote on Australia’s role in Sri Lanka’s war

In September 2007 I wrote about an unreported naval battle halfway between Sir Lanka and the Cocos Islands, which seemed a little mysterious. The Sri Lankan navy only had five offshore patrol boats. How did they know to amass sufficient force to intercept a four-ship Sea Tiger convoy 1100 kilometers from home? Their accurate intelligence suggested a US and possibly an Australian role. In any case, 18 months later the Tigers were finished as a fighting force. Continue reading

How to read Rupert Murdoch’s Twitter feed

Duchessing Rupert

Rupert Murdoch’s tweets have an almost irresistible appeal. He’s indestructible. He shrugs off the hundreds of hostile slaps he gets for much of his Twitter feed, the same way he has ignored his critics for six decades. Like him or hate him you have to admit: he’s perky. And of course really wacky. The man who built the world’s most powerful media empire, and he thinks things like that? And hey, now he’s on Tumblr, doing kooky things all over the world!

There’s a rich vein of comedic material in @rupertmurdoch—probably a whole sitcom series. But that’s not the only way to read Rupert Murdoch on Twitter. 

It’s a micro-blog, and his 750-odd Tweets provide snapshots for what’s on Murdoch’s mind.

More specifically, his Tweets are a record of the last person that Murdoch has been talking to—it just gets recycled and blurted out. The tweets are also an indicator, for journalists who work for the most famously interventionist media proprietor on the planet, of just what the boss might be thinking about.

Put those two things together and you may glimpse the process where people gain Rupert Murdoch’s ear, and how that message can be re-broadcast around the world. Continue reading

Is this Kyle and Jackie O’s finest moment?

Kyle Sandilands are leaving Southern Cross-Austereo’s 2DayFM (let the grief be unconfined) to join Mix 106.5, apparently for altruistic reasons and a minimum of $1 million a year apiece.

Their time at 2DayFM had many features. Like this one, when they hooked up a 14-year-old girl to a lie detector in July 2009. To be clear here, the girl was accompanied by her mother, but clearly appeared an unwilling participant. She explicitly said she was afraid and that this was not fair. She was then asked about her personal sexual history, with the clear message that if she was not truthful she would be branded a liar. She said she was raped when she was 12 years old.

Continue reading

Rupert Murdoch’s new BFF: And how Col Allan weaseled his way to New York

How committed is Rupert Murdoch to his children succeeding him to control News Corporation and 21st Century Fox? Seven years ago he agreed to give up the one successful big investment he has made in the last 17 years–his only success since launching Fox News in 1996. Walked away from it. But he wasn’t always so family minded… Continue reading

So the Tele didn’t win it. And how Palmer outfoxed the Australian

Just over an hour after Tony Abbott had given his victory speech on Saturday night, one of his warmest admirers joined the chorus of praise. In the process Rupert Murdoch cleared up some little confusion over where the editorial line at News Corp Australia newspapers might head after the election. Who would they target now?

There were some very solid suggestions from the executive chairman: Continue reading

What’s next for Australia? Rupert Murdoch’s people have a few thoughts


How much power does Rupert Murdoch have over political leaders? Not a jot. Nary a skerrick. Not a sausage. Nada. Zippo. Rien du tout. Nuffink. None. Gedouttahere! Rupert who?

They all say so. Every single one. Well that’s a relief.

So how much power does he have over corporate leaders, who have the advantage that they don’t need to get re-elected by popular vote? Would he be able, say, to get Australia’s commercial television stations to refuse to run an anti-Murdoch ad days before an election? How implausible. Continue reading

Toff Tallies Tumble! . . . Scumbag sightings said to be ‘on low side’

‘Toffs for toffs, hell to public.’

Disappointing news on the Toff touting front. There’s been no sightings since April. The Toff Total-Tallier-in-Chief has been missing in action for four months now. And we’re the poorer for it. Updating our story so far:

Let’s be frank. You don’t see a lot of Toffs around these days. You don’t run into them in the suburbs. Or around the shopping mall. They don’t go bowling. They’re shy creatures. I thought I saw a small one last week, but he ducked off into the shrubbery before I could be sure. Continue reading