Leave it to Rupert Murdoch, the T. rex of media moguls, to accuse one of his competitors of enabling pedophilia on the Internet. “If you want to extort a young girl on Facebook, it will be very easy,” the 76-year-old chairman of News Corp. — which owns Facebook rival MySpace — claimed this morning at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia XVI Conference. “You can’t on MySpace,” he added, touting the security features of his Web operation as superior to those of Brand X. Nervous laughter rippled across the packed crowd of capitalists at the Grand Hyatt, where Murdoch kept flashing a toothy grin — less an expression of happiness than an animal threat-gesture. “Everybody laughed at me when I bought MySpace [for $580 million in July 2005],” he added, “and now it’s worth 25 times” what he paid for it.
Murdoch, who expects to complete his $5 billion acquisition of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal sometime in late December, said his appetite for the moment is sated, and he has no plans to swallow up other companies in the near future. Especially not Facebook. “The prices mentioned have been ridiculous,” he said. Murdoch said that even though CNBC has a cross-branding agreement with the Journal for another four years, “it only applies to business journalism,” and the Fox Business Channel, scheduled to launch October 15, will make ample use of the WSJ brand “in politics, international affairs, and lifestyle” journalism. “The Fox Business Channel will be as different from CNBC as the Fox News Channel is from CNN,” Murdoch predicted. “CNBC is a business channel for Wall Street. We will be a business channel for Main Street.” CNBC was launched by News Corp. exec Roger Ailes, who’s overseeing the start of the new Fox channel, “and it’s the same as when Roger Ailes left it and he came to me” a decade ago.
All in all, the glowing Murdoch was reminiscent of the description Truman Capote once applied to CBS founder William Paley after spotting him at a cocktail party. “He looked wonderful,” Capote said. “He looked like he just ate an entire human being.” —Lloyd Grove