Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Real Rupert?

I've been fascinated by Rupert Murdoch for as long as I can remember.

I have read many many books about his life - which seems to never end.

The best is Bruce Page’s The Murdoch Archipelago.

Murdoch is presenting this year's ABC Boyer lectures in November.

Now a new biography is underway, written by Michael Wolff with full cooperation from (but no vetting by) the man himself.

Vanity Fair have published this teaser:

"For nine months, I’ve been interviewing Rupert Murdoch, in an unlikely spirit of openness precipitated by his great satisfaction in having bought The Wall Street Journal, about journalism, his business, politics, his family, and the future for a new biography.

I was warned about his charm by many other journalists—warned not to fall victim to it. So the surprise was his lack of it. He’s without introspection and self-analysis and doesn’t like to talk about the past. What’s more, he mumbles terribly (and with a heavy Aussie accent) and seldom finishes a sentence.

But his odd lack of seductiveness or felicitousness—contributing to his aura of villainy—became after a while alluring in itself. There’s no spin, because he really can’t explain himself. Rather, what you see is what you get. He’s transparent. The nature of the beast is entirely evident.

One morning when Leela and I arrived at Murdoch’s office for another interview session, we found the 77-year-old News Corp. chairman and C.E.O. hunched over the phone reporting out a story. He’d been out the night before and gotten a tip. Now he was trying to nail it down. His side of the conversation was straight reporter stuff: Who could he call? How could he get in touch? Will they confirm? Barked, impatient, just the facts.

Here was the old man, in white shirt, singlet visible underneath, doing one of the same basic jobs he’d been doing since he was 22, having inherited the
Adelaide News in Australia from his father. And he was good at it. He was parsing each answer. Re-asking the question. Clarifying every point. His notepad going. He knew the trade. Of how many media-company C.E.O.’s could that be said? This wasn’t a destroyer of journalism—this was a practitioner.

On the other hand, he was trying to smear somebody..."

Well worth reading.