It happens all the time in the media game. A reporter convinces a source to talk on the record … after a few tentative conversations the reporter wins the confidence of the source … the source steadily reveals more and more information … the gleeful reporter writes the story … the source then realises he hates the story … and all hell breaks loose.

It happens all the time, sure, but how could it possibly happen to a source who is himself the savviest media operator in the world? Well it has. The New York Times is reporting that Rupert Murdoch has complained to the author of his upcoming biography — a book called The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch — that “it contains some extremely damaging misstatements of fact which I will be happy to point out to you if we could meet”. Otherwise, wrote Murdoch to author Michael Wolff, “I will have no option other than to speak to [the book’s publisher] Random House.”

According to the Times, Murdoch’s main complaint is that the book suggests he “is at times embarrassed by Fox News, which he owns … and that he often shares ‘the general liberal apoplexy,’ as Mr. Wolff writes in the book, toward Fox News and its perceived conservative slant”. Michael Wolff actually spent some 50 hours interviewing the mogul on the record.

But wait, there’s more. Despite a tight embargo, Murdoch somehow “purloined” an early draft of the book, according to Michael Wolff. “In essence News Corp. is holding stolen goods,” says the author.

This is highly irresponsible behaviour by Michael Wolff. He and his publisher should immediately amend the book according to Mr Murdoch’s requirements, or face the full force of the law or the censure of the appropriate media governance organisation.

Rupert Murdoch, of all people, doesn’t deserve this trashy treatment from the fourth estate.  

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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