Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Media Mogul With Relentless Moxie

By JANET MASLIN writing in The New York Times.
Published: November 30, 2008

According to Michael Wolff’s supercilious yet star-struck portrait of Rupert Murdoch, the planet’s most notorious press baron has a crude, simple, primordial idea of a good time. “Being warlike is his point,” Mr. Wolff writes. “He likes to be the cause of the conflict. He likes to set the house on fire and watch all the fire engines drive maniacally down the road.”

Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch
By Michael Wolff
446 pages. Broadway Books. US $29.95.

" The Man Who Owns the News” is larded with examples of that incendiary Murdoch behavior. One of the most illuminating is Mr. Murdoch’s stealth campaign to acquire The Wall Street Journal and its parent company, Dow Jones, from the Bancroft family, which controlled them. (“Somewhat hilariously,” Mr. Wolff writes, Mr. Murdoch quells the Bancrofts’ doubts by suggesting they “should just ask around to see if he is a trustworthy person or not.” )

The other is his decision to invite a journalist as barbed and heat-seeking as Mr. Wolff, a longtime media columnist, into what this book’s subtitle calls Mr. Murdoch’s “secret world.”
How far into that world did Mr. Wolff get? Just far enough to appreciate the uncanny, superhuman, impervious, all-powerful essence of the Murdoch mystique, to grasp the absoluteness of his power and come away with a book’s worth of choice anecdotes about the Murdoch magic.
(The boss’s underlings think —no, need to think — he can “see around corners.”) And far enough to quote occasionally from the oracle since Mr. Murdoch spoke for the record, to the extent that Mr. Murdoch speaks.
Read Janet Maslin's full review at the NYT online.
The Bookman wrote about this title last week, read here. Published in a harcover edition in NZ by Knopf,9Random House), NZ$55.

1 comment:

adam hartung said...

You don't have to like Mr. Murdoch's politics (in fact, you can hate them). But you have to recognize what a great job he's done growing News Corporation into the media industry leader. Fixated on the future, obsessive about competitors, willing to Disrupt and full of White Space projects to try new things has made News Corporation a powerhouse - at a time when most media companies (look at Tribune Corporation) fear failure. Read more at http://www.thephoenixprinciple.com