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Man Who Owns The News, The: Inside The Secret World Of Rupert Murdoch

by Michael Wolff
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Broadway
  • Publishing date: 04/05/2010
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780767929523
  • ISBN: 0767929527

Synopsis

Book Description

If Rupert Murdoch isn’t making headlines, he’s busy buying the media outlets that generate the headlines. His News Corp. holdings--from the New York Post, Fox News, and most recently The Wall Street Journal, to name just a few--are vast, and his power is unrivaled. So what makes a man like this tick? Michael Wolff gives us the definitive answer in The Man Who Owns the News.

With unprecedented access to Rupert Murdoch himself, and his associates and family, Wolff chronicles the astonishing growth of Murdoch's $70 billion media kingdom. In intimate detail, he probes the Murdoch family dynasty, from the battles that have threatened to destroy it to the reconciliations that seem to only make it stronger. Drawing upon hundreds of hours of interviews, he offers accounts of the Dow Jones takeover as well as plays for Yahoo! and Newsday as they’ve never been revealed before.

Written in the irresistible stye that only an award-winning columnist for Vanity Fair can deliver, The Man Who Owns the News offers an exclusive glimpse into a man who wields extraordinary power and influence in the media on a worldwide scale--and whose family is being groomed to carry his legacy into the future.


An Interview with Michael Wolff on Rupert Murdoch

Q: Over the years, Rupert Murdoch has built a personal fortune worth $9 billion and a global media empire that includes more than 100 newspapers, the Fox movie studio and television networks, satellite TV systems in Europe and Asia, the book publisher Harper Collins, and MySpace. Despite that, he has continued to be regarded as an outsider, an interloper at the establishment ball. Is that perception of him accurate, or is it an image that he has carefully cultivated to serve his own goals?

Michael Wolff: I think both are absolutely true. Rupert Murdoch came into this business as an outsider and he continues to see himself as such, no matter that he owns everything, controls everything, and is the central person of our time. He continues to see himself as an outsider and it gives him enormous happiness, joy, and a reason to get up in the morning to stick it to, I guess, the rest of us.

Q: In 2007, Murdoch mounted a successful $5 billion bid to acquire Dow Jones, a drama that occupies center stage in your narrative. Why did he pursue Dow Jones and its crown jewel, The Wall Street Journal? Was it an expression of the opportunism for which he is legendary, a bid for respectability, or both?

MW: It was a bid for a newspaper. Murdoch is a newspaper man--a man who is consumed by newspapers. His reason for being is newspapers. The Wall Street Journal is arguably second only to the New York Times, the best newspaper in the world--and Murdoch had set his sights on it long before he had any hope of getting it. That’s one of the interesting things about Murdoch: The fact that he has no hope of realizing his dreams is never an impediment to him. With Dow Jones, he was just there and just wouldn’t go away, and, finally, as in all things, it comes to him.

Q: Murdoch has said that he is “proud” of the enemies he has made. Why does he instill such strong feelings of fear, contempt, and even outright loathing in so many people? What is it about him that gets under people’s skin?

MW: The truth is that he doesn’t go along. “To get along, you go along” is not a Murdochian turn of phrase or turn of mind. He is a man who, because he comes out of the newspaper business, has fought newspaper wars and newspaper-like wars wherever he’s gone. There’s always an enemy, and an enemy gives Rupert a reason for being, it gives structure to the fight, it gets him up in the morning--and it means that at the end of the day, there’s always a winner and there’s always a loser. There’s no middle ground, there’s no ambivalence with Rupert Murdoch.

Q: The title of your book, The Man Who Owns the News, calls to mind outsized media moguls such as Henry Luce, William Randolph Hearst, and William Paley, men who relished ownership of their media properties and used them not just to build their fortunes but also to influence politics and society. Do you see Murdoch as a continuation of that historical tradition? And, if so, is he the “Last True Mogul,” an anachronistic throw-back in today’s world?

MW: The point is that Rupert Murdoch is so much bigger than any of these men. The world has never seen someone like Murdoch. He has held power literally longer than any politician, any businessman, any celebrity in our day and age. For thirty years he has been at the top of his game, more influential than anyone else across that period of time. So you have to see Rupert as absolutely sui generis, absolutely unique. We will, I doubt, ever see the likes of Rupert Murdoch again.

Q: In reporting your book, you gained an unprecedented level of access to Murdoch himself, as well as to his family members and most trusted lieutenants. How were you able to gain such access? And did Murdoch try to impose any conditions on your reporting?

MW: Absolutely no conditions were unimposed. The answer to how I gained such access remains entirely unclear to me, and I think, certainly for the first couple of months as I sat interviewing Rupert, that it was entirely unclear to him. I think he looked at me, kept looking at me, and kept asking himself, “What is this guy doing here?” This is partly a function of the unique culture of News Corp. I think Rupert’s people thought that Rupert wanted me to be there, so I kind of found my way in. But I must say that this was cooperation beyond my wildest dreams. They never said no to anything. Even when I went to Australia and spent the day with Rupert’s 99-year old mother, he called ahead and said, “Oh, tell him anything,” and she did. It has been one of the seminal experiences of my long journalistic life.


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  • Absolute rubbish. This man cannot write good...
    From Amazon

    Michael Wolff writes about subjects that fascinate me. And I have never yet made it through an entire one of his articles. In fact after giving up on the last one I felt strongly enough to write to Vanity Fair to ask why on earth this inarticulate meat-head is given space within the pages. They didn't answer me, for some reason... But I felt bad, and thought I would give him another chance. I convinced myself that he might be better with a book, that maybe he will stretch his thoughts out, take more time and make his points concisely one after the other, but I was wrong. He is just a terrible writer in any format. Such a shame, the world is crying out for a decent Murdoch biography, especially by someone given such exclusive access to the man for just that purpose, but the world will just have to keep waiting. So DON'T buy this book, or some bloody fool might let him publish another one someday. And that might just tip me over the edge...

  • Poorly written
    From Amazon

    Very interesting subject. Too bad he was stoned when he wrote it. His picture on the flap gives us a hint of his disorganized schizoid style. He should have hired an editor from Vanity Fair to re-write it. No quotes, lots of inverted sentence structure, run-on phrases, and sporatic punctuation, all of which make it difficult to read.

  • Rupert is all about business.....mostly.
    From Amazon

    We learn that Rupert Murdoch is not as much of a right wing ideologue as everyone gives him credit for. He has bought, created and run right wing media properties (FOX News), left wing media properties (The Village Voice) and tabloids (News of the World). Rupert is all about business and he will do anything that is "good business". He also won't hesitate to use his media properties to advocate positions that are positive for his businesses. That said, every once in a while Ol' Rupe will buy something simply to satisfy his own quirky personality (The Wall Street Journal). He has the consummate media marauder longing for recognition of his success and his own brand of genius. The open secret is that "the establishment" will never really invite him to their parties and that if they did, Rupert really doesn't want to go.

  • Terrible, Terrible Writing
    From Amazon

    With a subject as fascinating as Rupert Murdoch, it is sad that the book that emerges is nothing better (in fact, markedly worse) than a Michael Wolff Vanity Fair column. The prose loops and swoops in unexpected, and unwelcome, ways, and the reader is simply left confused. The three most interesting things about Murdoch are his business acumen (yet there is little that is informative in the way of business information in this book - I only learnt that News Corp is worth $9 billion when I came to the Amazon reviews); his politics (perilously little analysis about the politics of Fox News, except for some asides about Roger Ailes); and perhaps his family life (which is maybe the best covered element of this book, but told in such a gossipy, snarky manner as to be extremely irritating, rather than enlightening). The thread about the Wall Street Journal acquisition (which is the putative raison d'etre of the book) is so badly told, and ends in such a damp squib, that one is tempted to throw away the book in disgust. It may be unfair, but any book that claims to tell the tale of a takeover sets itself against the master of the genre - 'Barbarians at the Gate' - and this falls woefully short. If this is Michael Wolff's writing style, and he intends on sticking to it, there is still a much better book he can write than this one. It was an extreme disappointment.

  • The Most Distracting Writing...Ever
    From Amazon

    When I reached the 2/3rd mark of this book, I had to quit. Will someone please take Michael Wolff back to school to learn how to write correctly? The book is rife with rambling asides in parentheses and, his all-time favorite, within dashes. I challenge someone to find more than two pages within this entire book that does not include a dash (the Acknowledgments do not count). If something is worth mentioning, please take the take to develop it properly. I am not one of those curmudgeonly people who usually picks apart a book but am compelled to point out that abundant patience is needed to make it through this book. This is all to say that Wolff's writing distracts terribly from a topic and a man who is fascinating for what he has accomplished and how he had done it. The format of following Murdoch's life with the parallel story line of the Dow Jones purchase works very well to keep the book fresh.

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