In September 2007, Michael Wolff produced what was regarded by many as a soft profile of Rupert Murdoch for Vanity Fair, which was contrary to the widespread pounding the Sun King received during the battle for Dow Jones.
Wolff, along with Ken Auletta, is the leading New York-based authority on media. He has written several books and contributes to the likes of Vanity Fair and CNBC.
However, even Wolff was surprised when Murdoch granted him enormous access for a book project, which extended to interviews with his mother and adult children.
I met up with Wolff for a couple of hours in New York after last year’s News Corp AGM and it was clear he wasn’t planning to produce a hagiography.
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This bloke was a straight shooter who would call it as he saw it, even though his daughter worked for The New York Post.
The end result was partly unveiled to the world on Vanity Fair’s website yesterday and it is definitely the most illuminating portrait of Murdoch we’ve even seen.
No doubt News Corp will be regretting opening up to a New York liberal, because the embarrassment is piled high, including the following revelations that Rupert:
- dyes his own hair augerine over the sink;
- misrepresents the fact that his two youngest daughters to Wendi don’t have voting rights after he goes;
- is becoming more liberal thanks to Wendi whilst increasingly embarrassed about Fox News and Roger Ailes;
- preferred Obama to Hillary simply because he’ll sell more newspapers;
- used the Kennedys to try and gain access to Obama;
- believes Muslims are genetically inferior because cousins marry;
- fantasises about buying The New York Times;
- is personally an inveterate gossip and hatchet merchant;
- can’t look at pregnant women;
- is a schemer who acknowledges no rules;
- showed no respect for the Dow Jones editorial independence arrangements;
- wasn’t kept in the loop by son Lachlan during the CMH privatisation bid with James Packer;
- ignored his mother’s advice when divorcing Anna; and
- is desperate to get his kids back in the business even though Elisabeth quit in 2000 over the divorce with her mother.
The rockets will be going off in all directions today. What will Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal and big News Corp voting shareholder think about that Muslim sledge? Can Roger Ailes be pacified? Will Wendi comes to Dame Elisabeth’s 100th birthday next February?
Whatever the case, everyone should read Wolff’s account which looks like a tough, fair and accurate portrait after 9 months of interviews with the most powerful man in the world.
*Check out yesterday’s account of the historic AWB EGM after which angry wheat farmers tipped grain on Stephen Mayne.