The Independent quoted from a fascinating interview
with Rupert Murdoch last week as he reflected on the industrial
revolution News Corporation drove through Fleet Street in the 1980s
after Maggie Thatcher produced a genuinely revolutionary set of new
workplace laws that helped revitalise the British economy and destroy
union power.

The paper bills its 2450 word profile as Rupert’s
“first major interview for five years.” Sadly, only the first few
paragraphs are now online but Rupert is quoted explaining his purchase
of The Times: “It appeared to me to be a risky but a great
opportunity. It wasn’t the £10m-£12m we paid for it. It was the
subsequent £35m we lost, just by trying to get over pigheaded unionism,
you know?”

If there is one autobiography that should be written
one day it is Rupert’s. The Sun King fully intended to do exactly that
as his 1990-91 debt crisis blew up, but then he changed his mind as he
focused on bringing News Corp back from the brink. He sent an amusing
outline to prospective publishers at the time, which included a promise
to reveal “the fundamental reason I’ve been successful and other people
aren’t.”

Rupert tantalised publishers with a promise to cover
everything from “my intervention in elections on three continents” and
“what exactly is my power and influence” to “the Murdoch recipe for jet
lag.”

Originally Rupert wanted the autobiography to mark his
60th birthday in March 1991, when most normal people are beginning to
slow down. “It had better be done now … I want to get my side of the
Great Murdoch Controversy on the record soon.”

“I’m acutely
aware,” he noted, “that nasty things can happen to businessmen who
write autobiographies in the middle of their careers – look at (Dr
A.N.) Wang and (perhaps) Donald Trump.”

Having started out in
October 1953, Rupert clearly believes that 37 years was the middle of
his career. That was 15 years ago so there’s only another 22 to go.

The best example of Rupert’s theory about premature autobiographies is undoubtedly fallen media mogul Conrad Black, whose 1993 A Life In Progress
might need a little updating from the inside of a jail cell. Peter
Beattie might also come a cropper one day for taking Rupert’s coin in
producing a mid-career autobiography earlier this year.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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