Rupert Murdoch Could Write a Book on How to Undermine an Executive

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Vanity Fair’s excerpt of Sarah Ellison’s War at the Wall Street Journal is almost chilling in the simplicity with which it explains Rupert Murdoch’s steady campaign of undermining and eventually ousting managing editor Marcus Brauchli. Brauchli, who had been working his way up at the Journal for 24 years, was a smart guy, but even he thought he could avoid his inevitable fate. It started the very first day Murdoch owned the paper (after he’d signed an editorial protection agreement that would supposedly block such things), when the media mogul called Brauchli out of his morning news meeting in front of the entire staff. Naturally, when Brauchli picked up the phone, Murdoch made him wait several minutes before picking up himself.

These transgressions progressed steadily. Murdoch dissed Brauchli’s long-laid plans for the paper and told him to change everything — and to go after the Times. Brauchli grew so exhausted trying to deal with Murdoch he became distracted from the very editors he was trying to protect. Then Murdoch insisted that Robert Thomson, the publisher he’d brought in from the London Times, get a seat on the editorial floor. From VF:


Eventually Brauchli was asked to resign, exposing the editorial protection agreement for the farce it always was.

The Man Who Tried to Manage Murdoch [VF]
Earlier: Marcus Brauchli’s Ouster: the ‘Journal’ Version vs. the ‘Observer’ Version