Monday, Apr. 18, 2005

Rupert Murdoch

You know you've arrived as a media mogul when both liberals and conservatives think you're bad news. To critics on the left, Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel—and the right-leaning publications that his News Corp. owns—proves that he's a conservative press baron using his control of information to try to influence political life. To social conservatives, his company's entertainment offerings—especially those on the Fox Television network—convict him as a corporate sleaze peddler with a rap sheet stretching from Married ... with Children to The Swan.

The chairman and CEO's conservative credentials are no secret—though in his younger years he was liberal enough to earn the nickname "Red Rupert." But he is also a living example of the contradictions of business, willing to undermine the very principles of the politicians he supports if that will draw eyeballs and dollars.

Murdoch cut his teeth on the Australian tabloid business, and his genius has been to apply the tabloid attitude—get attention by any and all means—to broadcasting. His media properties make you pay attention. The same sensibility that built a soapbox for Bill O'Reilly's lapel-grabbing fulminations gave us Fox's subversive Arrested Development and FX's shocking, Golden Globe-winning Nip/Tuck.

The most important fact about Murdoch is not that he's a conservative; it is that he's a monarch. And at age 74, as he pursues plans to combine the distribution power of recently acquired DirecTV with News Corp.'s vast content assets, he seems bent on expanding his empire.

From the Archive
Rupert's World: burst of deals puts Rupert Murdoch in the forefront of media moguls seeking global reach