When Rupert Murdoch is your dad, there’s never really much to worry about in terms of finding a job. Once you’re in the News Corp. web, though, things can be trickier. The patriarch’s relationship with his children, specifically his son James, who remains at the center of the phone-hacking scandal, is the subject of a feature in the New York Times today that proves at least one thing: Father knows best, or at least thinks he does. “You’re coming back to New York, or you’re out,” the elder Murdoch reportedly told James, who was named deputy chief operating officer after a few years heading News Corp. in Europe and Asia. “This is one company, not two,” Rupert said to his son. “And it is run out of New York.” Kids being kids, James still lives in London. For now.
Although he previously rebelled by dropping out of Harvard, having his ears pierced, and running a rap record label, James is subtler now, and more in line with his family’s values, agreeing to purchase a $23 million townhouse near his father’s in New York. He plans to spend more time here by the end of the year.
First, James has to finish dealing with the British parliament and all of those lawsuits, fighting the idea that he presided over the phone-hacking cover-up. Because of that baggage, News Corp. executives are reportedly prepping a contingency plan in case James is forced to “take a breather,” Reuters reports. “I’m waiting for the moment when he says, ‘What the hell am I doing here, I need a breather,’” said one source.
But being blood-related and all, the separation might not last. “Even if he did step out of the spotlight for a while, that wouldn’t necessarily mean he wouldn’t come back when things are quieter,” imagined one Reuters source. The Times is more speculative about the succession plan: “Can you detoxify the company without de-Murdochizing, or is something more fundamental needed?” wondered one expert, echoing the thoughts of some investors recently. Even in his eighties, Daddy will likely decide.