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Murdoch’s Super! Tracing the Media’s Change of Heart


In reality, he’s really rather mottled.Photo Illustration: Everett Bogue; Photo: Getty Images

Rupert Murdoch: shriveled old meanie or butt-kicking visionary? As he plotted to buy out Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal in the spring and over the summer, Murdoch was greeted with a chorus of negs and inflated warnings that he would (further) disgrace the institution of journalism. More recently, though, a revised conventional wisdom has emerged, with the media applauding his forward-thinking investment in MySpace and ballsy management style. But don’t take our word for it — here are some of the more hyperbolic bits of chatter, conveniently arranged in chronological order. —Dan Amira

He’s a shriveled old meanie!
“[N]obody should take Murdoch at his word … he exasperates because he has no principles.” Slate, May 5, 2007

Murdoch … built a fortune on journalism that polemicizes issues, settles scores, and seeks or revises downward the lowest common denominator.” —Boston Globe, May 12

‘It is hard to imagine Rupert Murdoch publishing the New York Post in Midtown Manhattan, with all of his personal and political biases and business interests reflected every day, while publishing the Wall Street Journal in Downtown Manhattan with no interference whatsoever,’ James Ottaway Jr., a 5 percent shareholder and former director of Dow Jones, said recently.” —New York Times, June 25

[He’s] an opportunist who exploits a rule-free media environment … And in China, Mr. Murdoch’s organizations have taken care not to offend the dictatorship.” —New York Times, June 29

It is easy for outsiders to ask people to walk away from a $5 billion offer. But this is their moment in history. We hope they find a way to keep this American treasure away from Rupert Murdoch.” —Columbia Journalism Review editorial, July-August issue

A veritable barbarian at the gates of the newsroom.” —New York Times, July 22

‘This may be the beginning of the end for the Wall Street Journal,’ said Adam Green, from MoveOn.org. ‘No sane businessperson or investor will tolerate the type of unreliable, partisan news that Murdoch serves up at Fox and his other media outlets.’” —Financial Times, August 1

He’s a butt-kicking visionary!
“People, in short, are suddenly being nicer about Rupert. They prefer him to faceless corporate execs. They admire his chutzpah.” —The Observer (U.K.), August 5

[A]nalysts say starting a business channel is a smart long-term, multimedia play for Rupert Murdoch.” —San Francisco Chronicle, October 14

You puzzle over his ability to make deals that other, less bold moguls scoff at now and envy later.” —Information Week’s Digital Life blog, October 18

CNBC has a monopoly on an in-demand demographic, but never underestimate Murdoch,’ said Porter Bibb, a managing partner at Mediatech Capital Partners, a financier of media businesses …‘When Murdoch gets his hands on the Journal, then the competition will really begin,’ Bibb said. ‘When he starts the WSJ Network or something with that brand, then he can go head-to-head with CNBC — and kick butt.’” —AP, October 19

Even a Franciscan monk had nice things to say about the mogul. The monk, Father Michael Crosby, who in the past has taken American entertainment corporations to task for depicting smoking in movies they produce, congratulated News Corp’s movie studio, Twentieth Century Fox, for its impressive anti-smoking policy in its films.”—News.co.au, October 19

But as bad as Murdoch is, he’s not as bad as some people make him out to be.” —Slate, October 26

From the reaction of the crowd, it might as well have been Lindsay Lohan. He was overwhelmed by an immediate onrush of hospitality as the geekerati lined up to get a word with him.” —New York Times, October 29

Give Rupert Murdoch his due. When the News Corp. chairman approved a $580 million deal to acquire MySpace in the summer of 2005, he was way ahead of the pack.” —Business Week, Current issue

Murdoch’s Super! Tracing the Media’s Change of Heart