photos helpfully supplied by Michael D. Ayers
New York Press Club Penthouse
“The journalistic community has been divided into two,” began veteran journalist/Newser founder Michael Wolff last night at the New York Press Club Penthouse, a nice enough room over looking Times Square. “People who work for Rupert and people who don’t work for Rupert–and they define themselves as ‘I’m Not A Murdoch Journalist.'” There to promote The Man Who Owns The News, his recent biography of the media mogul/possible devil-come-to-life Rupert Murdoch, Wolff sparred a bit with possibly employed journalists about the state of media and newspapers, explaining what Murdoch’s intentions have always been. “Rupert would not call himself a journalist; he’s a newspaperman.” So much so, he doesn’t seem to care about any of his other properties: he never watches movies, nor reads any books, despite owning companies that produce such things. When it boils down to it, Murdoch thinks about, digests, and produces newspapers, Wolff explains–and the stories that appear in them are just one fraction of the process.
“Rupert isn’t the problem; the larger problem is the rest of us. We haven’t provided an alternative to Rupert. Because the first job is to stay in business,” Wolff said, showing no fondness for any journalistic credos to obeying a “public trust.” This didn’t sit well with some folks, who during the Q&A, asked about Murdoch’s ties to Hades and whether or not there were any moral compasses within Murdoch’s empire. “Rupert is kind of a mafia guy,” Wolff said. “It’s a Mafioso view, but it’s all about him–he’s protecting his family and his company. And he’s always at war with everyone else.”
Wolff spent nine months, and close to fifty hours with Murdoch, alongside his friends, family, and co-workers. With Murdoch’s recent purchase of the Wall Street Journal, many were wondering what his next move was, even in print’s endangered state. Wolff sees two major moves in Rupert’s future, in terms of his continuing positioning/repositioning within the New York Market: the selling off of the New York Post, with a possible merger/dumping off with the Daily News, and the acquiring of the New York Times. When asked how he’d be able to pull this last feat off, Wolff put it bluntly: “Because he’ll pay more than anyone else.” And who says fun times aren’t ahead? –Michael D. Ayers
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 14, 2009