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The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook


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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Abridged edition (December 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739381849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739381847
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,350,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Book Description

If Rupert Murdoch isn’t making headlines, he’s busy buying the media outlets that generate the headlines. His News Corp. holdings--from the New York Post, Fox News, and most recently The Wall Street Journal, to name just a few--are vast, and his power is unrivaled. So what makes a man like this tick? Michael Wolff gives us the definitive answer in The Man Who Owns the News.

With unprecedented access to Rupert Murdoch himself, and his associates and family, Wolff chronicles the astonishing growth of Murdoch's $70 billion media kingdom. In intimate detail, he probes the Murdoch family dynasty, from the battles that have threatened to destroy it to the reconciliations that seem to only make it stronger. Drawing upon hundreds of hours of interviews, he offers accounts of the Dow Jones takeover as well as plays for Yahoo! and Newsday as they’ve never been revealed before.

Written in the irresistible stye that only an award-winning columnist for Vanity Fair can deliver, The Man Who Owns the News offers an exclusive glimpse into a man who wields extraordinary power and influence in the media on a worldwide scale--and whose family is being groomed to carry his legacy into the future.


An Interview with Michael Wolff on Rupert Murdoch

Q: Over the years, Rupert Murdoch has built a personal fortune worth $9 billion and a global media empire that includes more than 100 newspapers, the Fox movie studio and television networks, satellite TV systems in Europe and Asia, the book publisher Harper Collins, and MySpace. Despite that, he has continued to be regarded as an outsider, an interloper at the establishment ball. Is that perception of him accurate, or is it an image that he has carefully cultivated to serve his own goals?

Michael Wolff: I think both are absolutely true. Rupert Murdoch came into this business as an outsider and he continues to see himself as such, no matter that he owns everything, controls everything, and is the central person of our time. He continues to see himself as an outsider and it gives him enormous happiness, joy, and a reason to get up in the morning to stick it to, I guess, the rest of us.

Q: In 2007, Murdoch mounted a successful $5 billion bid to acquire Dow Jones, a drama that occupies center stage in your narrative. Why did he pursue Dow Jones and its crown jewel, The Wall Street Journal? Was it an expression of the opportunism for which he is legendary, a bid for respectability, or both?

MW: It was a bid for a newspaper. Murdoch is a newspaper man--a man who is consumed by newspapers. His reason for being is newspapers. The Wall Street Journal is arguably second only to the New York Times, the best newspaper in the world--and Murdoch had set his sights on it long before he had any hope of getting it. That’s one of the interesting things about Murdoch: The fact that he has no hope of realizing his dreams is never an impediment to him. With Dow Jones, he was just there and just wouldn’t go away, and, finally, as in all things, it comes to him.

Q: Murdoch has said that he is “proud” of the enemies he has made. Why does he instill such strong feelings of fear, contempt, and even outright loathing in so many people? What is it about him that gets under people’s skin?

MW: The truth is that he doesn’t go along. “To get along, you go along” is not a Murdochian turn of phrase or turn of mind. He is a man who, because he comes out of the newspaper business, has fought newspaper wars and newspaper-like wars wherever he’s gone. There’s always an enemy, and an enemy gives Rupert a reason for being, it gives structure to the fight, it gets him up in the morning--and it means that at the end of the day, there’s always a winner and there’s always a loser. There’s no middle ground, there’s no ambivalence with Rupert Murdoch.

Q: The title of your book, The Man Who Owns the News, calls to mind outsized media moguls such as Henry Luce, William Randolph Hearst, and William Paley, men who relished ownership of their media properties and used them not just to build their fortunes but also to influence politics and society. Do you see Murdoch as a continuation of that historical tradition? And, if so, is he the “Last True Mogul,” an anachronistic throw-back in today’s world?

MW: The point is that Rupert Murdoch is so much bigger than any of these men. The world has never seen someone like Murdoch. He has held power literally longer than any politician, any businessman, any celebrity in our day and age. For thirty years he has been at the top of his game, more influential than anyone else across that period of time. So you have to see Rupert as absolutely sui generis, absolutely unique. We will, I doubt, ever see the likes of Rupert Murdoch again.

Q: In reporting your book, you gained an unprecedented level of access to Murdoch himself, as well as to his family members and most trusted lieutenants. How were you able to gain such access? And did Murdoch try to impose any conditions on your reporting?

MW: Absolutely no conditions were unimposed. The answer to how I gained such access remains entirely unclear to me, and I think, certainly for the first couple of months as I sat interviewing Rupert, that it was entirely unclear to him. I think he looked at me, kept looking at me, and kept asking himself, “What is this guy doing here?” This is partly a function of the unique culture of News Corp. I think Rupert’s people thought that Rupert wanted me to be there, so I kind of found my way in. But I must say that this was cooperation beyond my wildest dreams. They never said no to anything. Even when I went to Australia and spent the day with Rupert’s 99-year old mother, he called ahead and said, “Oh, tell him anything,” and she did. It has been one of the seminal experiences of my long journalistic life.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

By no means has Michael Wolff given the world the definitive biography of Rupert Murdoch. Several critics, especially those in the United Kingdom, felt that he had not even written a factually adequate one, leaving out major episodes and making several major errors. Others wrote that Wolff has written an interesting book but that it never truly penetrates the "secret world" of its subtitle. But like the tabloid newspapers upon which Murdoch built his empire, The Man Who Owns the News offers so many titillating details that reviewers found it difficult to put down. Add in the fact that its foundation was an encounter between two of the most enigmatic and controversial characters in today's media elite, and it may not even matter what's true and what's not.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Too bad he was stoned when he wrote it.
John Lee
If this is Michael Wolff's writing style, and he intends on sticking to it, there is still a much better book he can write than this one.
Wallace Kantai
Wow, I feel like a total fool for purchasing this book.
DB

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By DB on March 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Wow, I feel like a total fool for purchasing this book. I bought this in an airport store right before a flight so the only reason I even got all the way through it was out of sheer boredom. After seeing the author on the Daily Show and from what I know about the almost mythical persona that is Murdoch, I thought this book would be a fun, gossipy read. Be careful what you wish for. This book needed to be trimmed by 100 pages (yes, even though it is barely over 400 pages long) just to be readable. To make this book GOOD, someone else would've had to write it. Wolff includes irrelevant details, drops literally hundreds of names, and drags out the sale of the WSJ for the entire book. Maybe if I were in publishing or had some sort of real connection to Murdoch's world I would have been able to stomach the astounding amount of minutiae, but come on, good storytelling could make many boring topics interesting and terrible writing can make the most fascinating subject matter soul-crushingly boring. Wolff chides Murdoch for feeding into gossip and rumor but he pretty much does the exact same thing. It was kind of interesting to learn about Murdoch's true political affiliations (or lack thereof) but there are less than 10 pages dedicated to Fox News, Murdoch's most controversial endeavor, and chapters and chapters describing people and issues that don't add much to the narrative. I am giving this book two stars because there are a couple of good tidbits and I think he tries to give a complete view of Murdoch's philosophies, life, etc, but this book is not well done at all.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Wallace Kantai on December 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
With a subject as fascinating as Rupert Murdoch, it is sad that the book that emerges is nothing better (in fact, markedly worse) than a Michael Wolff Vanity Fair column. The prose loops and swoops in unexpected, and unwelcome, ways, and the reader is simply left confused. The three most interesting things about Murdoch are his business acumen (yet there is little that is informative in the way of business information in this book - I only learnt that News Corp is worth $9 billion when I came to the Amazon reviews); his politics (perilously little analysis about the politics of Fox News, except for some asides about Roger Ailes); and perhaps his family life (which is maybe the best covered element of this book, but told in such a gossipy, snarky manner as to be extremely irritating, rather than enlightening).

The thread about the Wall Street Journal acquisition (which is the putative raison d'etre of the book) is so badly told, and ends in such a damp squib, that one is tempted to throw away the book in disgust. It may be unfair, but any book that claims to tell the tale of a takeover sets itself against the master of the genre - 'Barbarians at the Gate' - and this falls woefully short.

If this is Michael Wolff's writing style, and he intends on sticking to it, there is still a much better book he can write than this one. It was an extreme disappointment.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Laura K. on July 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When I reached the 2/3rd mark of this book, I had to quit. Will someone please take Michael Wolff back to school to learn how to write correctly? The book is rife with rambling asides in parentheses and, his all-time favorite, within dashes. I challenge someone to find more than two pages within this entire book that does not include a dash (the Acknowledgments do not count). If something is worth mentioning, please take the take to develop it properly. I am not one of those curmudgeonly people who usually picks apart a book but am compelled to point out that abundant patience is needed to make it through this book.

This is all to say that Wolff's writing distracts terribly from a topic and a man who is fascinating for what he has accomplished and how he had done it. The format of following Murdoch's life with the parallel story line of the Dow Jones purchase works very well to keep the book fresh.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Pull up a comfortable chair, here; have a glass of this great wine I've discovered, and let me tell you all about Rupert Murdoch..."

Those lines never appear in Michael Wolff's chatty and engaging biography of Rupert Murdoch, the decidedly un-engaging media titan who most of the world loves to hate. But they might as well, because Wolff takes just that kind of unstructured and original approach to his task, telling the tale of the transformation of Murdoch from Australian newspaper proprietor to (he argues) the world's first global media titan as if he were breathlessly recounting it to friends by the fire after a good dinner. Darting back and forth in time and location, Wolff goes in quest of what makes Murdoch tick, digging into everything from his relationship with his father (who helped expose the folly of the Gallipoli landings in 1915, which cost the lives of thousands of Australian WW1 troops -- a key element of the family myth) to his often-troubled ties to his children.

Murdoch-haters will find lots of ammunition here, from his indifference to those rules of common courtesy that the rest of us feel we have to live by (Murdoch discards subordinates, alienates wives and children, plays power games at an advanced level with great aplomb, but almost unconsciously) to his political views (conservative/libertarian) and his refusal to step back and let the journalists run the newspapers he owns. After all, why should he? He owns the news...

Wolff's narrative revolves around Murdoch's 2007 acquisition of the Wall Street Journal, a purchase that Murdoch had dreamed of for decades.
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