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Rupert Murdoch on his family, his divorce and the future of newspapers

Rupert Murdoch has offered a rare insight into the future of News Corporation and his family during a lengthy Q&A with Fortune. Crikey tells you what you need to know.

Rupert Murdoch has given a rare interview with unfriendly media, opening up to Fortune’s Patricia Sellers about splitting News Corporation, his sons, his divorce and why his family hates that he’s on Twitter. Crikey compiles the best responses …

On divorce and a difficult year …

Oh, it’s been stressful. I’m quite open about it …

Well, everything has sort of come at once. But I was in an unhappy situation, and all I’m worried about or do worry about is two beautiful little girls from that marriage [to Wendi Deng, whom he divorced last November]. And they come and stay with me a great deal. I feel like I’ve turned over a new page in my life …

I wish we just could have got divorced quietly.”

On splitting News Corporation …

I was reluctant to see the company split, and now I’ve got to say that I’ve been proved wrong. I think it’s been a great success. And I’m not talking about the share market. I think the two companies, which were all in one before, are now much more focused, which will lead to faster growth … I guess it was emotional.”

On whether James or Lachlan or will succeed him …

Well, the job is not over yet. But yes, it does. But I’m going to be here for a long time. And so will [21st Century Fox president and COO] Chase Carey and Robert Thomson, the CEO of News Corp. Robert is the youngest of the three of us, so we’ll get more years out of him.”

On why Lachlan came back to the fold …

Look, he was always going to come back … Lachlan and James and I had a very serious talk about how we can work as a team in July of last year … We broke away for a meal. We had two or three hours together. Lachlan was not not going to come back. It was a question of how we would work together. How would we be a team?

Lachlan is a wonderful human being with his feet very firmly on the ground. He has built a very interesting business in Australia for himself, although he stayed on our boards. And James too. Everyone talks about hacking in London. That all happened long before James took charge. He took STAR television and [made it] the No. 1 broadcaster in India, with about eight channels, and is making a big difference to that country. And then he went to BSkyB, where people said, ‘Oh, that must be nepotism.’ But in fact, he went through a lot of tests. And when we took him out of his day-to-day role there and made him chairman, the same shareholders complained and said we can’t lose him. He completely changed BSkyB and lifted the bar there in every way — and added huge value to News Corp.”

On Liz not joining the board …

I’d rather not go into that. We’re a very, very close family. You know what close families are like. They meet at breakfast. They meet at dinner. And they have good arguments. That doesn’t mean they don’t love each other or have room for each other in each other’s lives …

I had a long and warm and loving hour with her on the phone yesterday. But mainly talking about her kids and not about the business.”

On Liz’s MacTaggart lecture (where she criticised the company over phone hacking) …

She put a lot of work into that and was very proud of it and got congratulations from everybody, except me. Because I thought it was falling in line too much with the sort of BBC and establishment. I think she was hurt when I said I didn’t really love it or like it.”

On the survival of the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal and printed newspapers …

Advertising has been very difficult. We’re looking at various plans for the Post. We are working very hard on the digital edition … I would think it might be quite likely in 10 years [that it will go fully digital].”

A lot of people are very happy to read their newspaper either on their iPad or — startlingly and faster and faster the figures go up — on their telephone, on their smartphone. At the London Times a third of our circulation is on a tablet. And people who read it on their tablet are spending 20% more time than if they’re reading the paper.”

On Realestate.com.au and expansion …

We’re looking at expanding REA a lot outside Australia. We’ve looked at all the companies in America that stand out: Zillow and Trulia and so on. And we’ve thought they were overpriced.”

On Fox News and the Republican Party …

I think it has absolutely saved it [the GOP]. It has certainly given voice and hope to people who didn’t like all that liberal championing thrown at them on CNN. By the way, we don’t promote the Tea Party. That’s bullshit. We recognise their existence.”

On buying MySpace …

I think that was one of our great screw-ups of all time.”

On Twitter …

My family are horrified that I’m on it. They think it’s ridiculous. And people like [News Corp CEO] Robert Thomson have said, ‘No, it’s extremely good personal public relations to show you’re interested in more than just making money.’”

On the next (Republican) president …

I think it’s between four or five people. It’s not necessarily, although slightly, in order of preference: Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, whom I have particular admiration for. I do for both. [Chris] Christie could recover. Scott Walker, whom I don’t know, and Rand Paul, whom I agree with on a great number of things but disagree strongly on some things [foreign policy] — too strongly perhaps to vote for him.”

On the media as a power for good …

We have duties to our shareholders to give them the best possible returns, but we see them also as much more. They can be a great power for good. And that takes me back all the way to my father, who specifically had left me, by the standards of those days, a silver spoon — but still a tiny paper, half a tiny paper, my sisters and I. He hoped that I would have the opportunity to have a useful life in media. And he wasn’t talking about making money.”

On what sort of leader he is …

I’m a permanently curious person. I probably waste my time being curious about things that have got nothing to do with the business sometimes. What keeps me alive, certainly, is curiosity.”

On how long he’ll live …

Well, my mother just died at 103, so that’s a start. You should live 20 years longer than your parents. [Laughs.] That may not be realistic, but I’m in good physical shape, according to the doctors. And don’t worry — my children will be the first to tell me if I start losing some mental ability. That will be the time to step back.”

7
  • 1
    MJPC
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Well, that’s one of the most fascile interviews we will ever have the opportunity to digest.
    “On the media as a power for good”..”we have duties to our shareholders to give them the best possible returns”…if hacking mobile phones achieves that then so be it!
    Fox gives hope to those CNN haters (like those ABC hater in Australia). Never let the truth get in the way of capitalist greed.
    This is one capitalist w**ker, pure and simple.

  • 2
    Kevin Herbert
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    More self serving tripe from the old Strausian Trotskyite.

    Leon would be proud of him.

  • 3
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Rupert on bull-shit, on wry.

  • 4
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    The media as a power for good : They can be a great power for good.
    The media for good, and Right, are not necessarily the same thing? Look what he’s done to “journalism”.

  • 5
    zut alors
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Good grief, why do we have to suffer more media exposure of this creature?

    This interview is a waste of space - as if he’s ever going to hand a non-News Corp journo anything of interest. Just a few insignificant crumbs, in the manner of Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

  • 6
    AR
    Posted Friday, 11 April 2014 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Did anybody looking at the pic get a whiff of “Weekend at Bernies”? Even the words seem to have been generated by a Turing machine that had been mated with a focus group.

  • 7
    Posted Monday, 14 April 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    ”I’d rather not go into that. We’re a very, very close family. You know what close families are like. They meet at breakfast. They meet at dinner. And they have good arguments. That doesn’t mean they don’t love each other or have room for each other in each other’s lives …” Such a loving and proud father takes on a certain surreal aura when viewed by a high ranking Murdochcrat, at the time when James Murdoch was made CEO of the NoTW…

    James Murdoch is the only person on this planet who can make Lachlan Murdoch look like a human being.”

    This ‘interview’ has appeared in The Guardian and Crikey which suggests a crude press release from a doddering, and cliché ridden old man.

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