Author and Journalist
Thursday, December 4, 2008 10:30 AM
Vanity Fair media columnist Michael Wolff is the author of the new book "The Man Who Owns the News," a biography of Rupert Murdoch. Wolff took your questions about the media mogul Thursday, Dec. 4 at 11:30 a.m. ET.
The transcript follows.
Pikesville, Md.: Is there any acquisition that would cause Murdoch to think, "I have enough now?"
Michael Wolff: When News Corp. ran into financial difficulties he certainly felt he had reached a bridge too far--or many. But in general, if he has big eyes he has a big stomach too.
Princeton, N.J.: Is there a possibility that the exemption Murdoch got in order to get around owning TV and newspapers in the same markets while still being an Australian citizen might deserve some legal attention now?
Michael Wolff: He is a US citizen. The issue arose because New Corp. was still an Australian company--but it is now a US company.
Pasadena, Calif.: How important are political considerations in Murdoch's decisions? If money is, say, a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10 in Murdoch's thinking, what numerical value do politics rate?
Michael Wolff: 5-6
Arlington, Va.: Now that blogs are usurping corporate-sponsored media, will Murdoch adapt or will his news conglomerate die out like GM?
Michael Wolff: You have a lot more fait in blogs than Rupert does.
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada: Murdoch's third wife Wendi Deng seems to have influenced Murdoch by her interest in things liberal.
Do you think she will succeed in bringing him over from the dark side of the right to a more centrist-liberal view?
Michael Wolff: I think she already has made great progress in this direction.
Harrisburg, Pa.: Have you seen "Outfoxed"? If so, what did you think about the part where former staff people stated they were directed to put political slants on how they report the news. Do you find this credible? I know the British press is different, but didn't Mr. Murdoch have a more open political slant with his British press holdings and to what degree to you believe Rupert Murdoch is attempting to influence American public opinion?
Michael Wolff: It's entirely credible and I'm sure it happened exactly that way.
washingtonpost.com: Hi Michael -- what was it about Murdoch that interested you enough to want to write a biography about him? And what do you think of his denials of certain comments since the book's release?
Michael Wolff: He's held far more power for far longer than anyone else in our time--politicians or businessmen. That seemed to make him worth of interest. He's actually disputed very little of the book. But it would have been more disconcerting if he'd embraced it.
Washington D.C.: Michael,
I have read interviews with Rupert Murdoch and Peter Chernin in which they say there is no evidence that News Corp supports politicians who advocate policies (media ownership) that will be favorable to their business. Many people interested in media say this is totally false and that they have a long history of lobbying politicians. Which is true and is this examined in your book?
Michael Wolff: The latter is true. The News Corp. guys just say this stuff because they feel it is part of the game.
Derwood, Md.: How much of an impact has Wendi Deng been in Murdoch's dealings? Jack Shafer in Slate mentioned that Murdoch doesn't read e-mail, and much of the correspondence is filtered through Deng. Is she thought of as the "true" mogul; I understand that he is the one who pulls the trigger, but is she the one who lines up the sights?
Michael Wolff: I think she in influential. He listens to her. But no, she's not the real power. Although, she does read him his email.
Arlington, Va.: Would Fox News' slant be more to the left if Rupert Murdoch felt it would help his business? In other words, is he really a businessman first, political supporter second?
Michael Wolff: A businessman first. But even before that a newspaperman--he like to make trouble.
Washington, D.C.: Is it true he called MySpace "filled with (expletive) cretins?"
Michael Wolff: Actualy, I think that's my quote, not poor Rupert's.
Chicago: Hey Michael, did you see Jack Shafer's review of your book? Any comment?
washingtonpost.com: Reunderstanding Rupert Murdoch (Slate, Dec.1)
Michael Wolff: I saw it and was tickled.
Washington, D.C.: How do you expect FoxNews to cover the Obama administration?
Michael Wolff: I'm not sure they know yet. They will however ultimately cover it in the most profitable way--that could either be as harsh antagonists or as something more in the middle.
Bethesda, Md.: What was your impression of Murdoch during any time you spent with him? Did you like him more as a person than you thought you would?
Michael Wolff: Yes. I did come to like him. What you see is what you get. No pretense. No spin. No baloney. Now, in the end, it is true, he is still Rupert Murdoch--but he's honest about that, at least.
Washington, D.C.: Okay, so why did you call MySpace users cretins?
Michael Wolff: I confess to being somewhat hyperbolic. But even at the New York Post, they tell their reporters to join MySpace because it's a good way to find criminals and their friends.
Lyme, CT.: Rupert Murdoch has a home in Lyme, Ct. How many homes does he have? Do you any idea what brought him to choose Lyme for a home and what he thinks of this part of the world?
Michael Wolff: He doesn't have a home in Lyme.
Michael Wolff: bye
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