Who do they think they are?
WR Hearst assesses Rupert Murdoch
"This is the most humble day in my life," said Rupert this month, fresh from his pie-in-the-face moment. Not very humble then.
Newspaper men like me and Rupert may taste humble pie when it's flung at us but WE NEVER SWALLOW. Humility is not a gene in our makeup.
Schadenfreude sure is though. Watching Murdoch being grilled in the House of Commons warmed my bones. He took my crown and I'm happy to see it slip from his head. I lost it because of the Great Depression; he's losing it because of some phone calls. I think I can be excused, he can't.
What's happened won't make him humble, just pissed (or pissed off as the Brits would have it). He knows he's toast now. If he doesn't accept it, he'll go King Lear mad.
Of course, I recognise myself in Murdoch. Any fool would. There wouldn't be a Rupert Murdoch if there hadn't been a Randolph Hearst. Press barons, you call us. Disrespectfully, in my opinion. Barons own estates, ours are kingdoms.
Keith Rupert Murdoch
William Randolph Hearst
More Murdoch than Hearst?
Photo: Playing card, internetweekly.org
Photo: WR Hearst, nndb.com
Photo: pie incident, fox.com.au
Photo: Film poster, moviepostershop.com
Murdoch tastes humble pie
The kingdom of information is richer and more powerful than any geographical entity. Its rulers start wars, create Presidents and Prime Ministers, shape the world's opinion. We stand for everyone and WE ANSWER TO NO ONE. The US went to war with Spain because of me. The US and UK invaded Iraq because of support from every one of Rupert's 175 newspapers across the world (except the one in Papua New Guinea, for some inexplicable reason). I put Hoover and Roosevelt into the Oval Office, Rupert gave the UK to Tony Blair. Again, I think I can be excused, but can he?
I was hardly cold in my grave when Rupert took over his first newspaper. OK, I'd been sad and a little mad for many years. Maddened mostly by the worthless pretenders like Rothermere, Beaverbrook, Luce, Thomson and Paley. But considering the power he has amassed I have to concede Rupert is a mighty successor to my crown.
I don't feel too bad about it, MURDOCH IS KING DAVID TO MY SAUL. Yes, there is some jealousy there but I don't rate myself as second best.
The kingdom of information is a gazillion times bigger now and there were no Goliaths like Pulitzer for him to slay. His timing is better than mine. The world speaks English now. Only part of it did at the turn of the nineteenth century. So don't think too highly of him. He didn't invent sex and sleaze in journalism, I'd trawled that path well before him. BOOBS WITH BREAKFAST was an inspired move, I admit, but big headlines, big pics, celeb scandals and heavy crime mashed up with xenophobia was the precedent I'd set.
I'm not apologising for that - I also threw quality into the mix. When I started running newspapers, I turned straight to Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, Jack London, Stephen Crane and Julian Hawthorne to write for me. Rupert has just dumbed everything down because he thought that was the only way to ramp up circulations.
I was happy to call myself a populist. Rupert professes to be a libertarian and wants, "As much individual responsibility as possible, as little government as possible, as few rules as possible." The subtext is pretty obvious. In spite of what he says, he believes passionately in rules - Rupe's Rules. The game Rupert played better than anyone since Genghis Khan is called 'BE MY PATSY'.
Until last month 'Be my Patsy' was very popular in Britain. Especially with politicians and celebrities, for whom the game was more or less compulsory. The aim of the game was not to do what Rupert wanted.
Every time you tried to do what Rupert didn't want (like ratify a new EU constitution or veto a takeover of BSB, for instance), the banker could play one of his TWO JOKERS - the top cop or the major newspaper editor. The only way you could win was to do something when the banker wasn't looking or didn't care. Now that the biggest jokers, like Sir Paul Stephenson and Rebecca Brooks have been taken out of the pack, RUPERT DOESN'T WANT TO PLAY ANY MORE.
Which brings me to the main difference between us two great newspaper men. I didn't despise the system I manipulated. I joined in. I was twice elected to the House of Representatives. Rupert has never wanted to be part of anything but his own News Corporation. He is a loner who has said that he is “proud” of the enemies he has made.
PRIDE COMES BEFORE A FALL, they say.
WR Hearst’s opinion was interpreted by Will Coe, July 2011
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