Can the Brits Get Rupert?

Sep 13, 10 | 7:02 AM   byMichael Wolff

Even just a few weeks ago, who would have doubted the outcome of a competition between Rupert Murdoch and the New York Times? The Times' many-months investigation of illegal phone hacking by Murdoch reporters in Britain is a reminder that while everybody is accustomed to quaking before Murdoch's bullying power, the Times' power, which it tends to use in an awkward fashion (all the more so when it's on its own behalf), is quite a bit more formidable. Murdoch can destroy reputations; the Times can move governments (which is why Murdoch so hotly wants to buy...
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Is Murdoch Berlusconi? And Is Britain Italy?

Sep 9, 10 | 7:30 AM   byMichael Wolff

The Brits are terribly confused. The scandal that they thought had run out of gas is suddenly, as though by a deus ex machina, back full-steam . And yet it is the same scandal, with relatively few new details, being covered by the same news outlets. Nothing on the face of it has changed. The Media Show on the BBC’s Radio 4—in a discussion of the phone hacking charges and of Rupert Murdoch’s and his company’s involvement in it, and of the New York Times’ recent upstart coverage of it—was world-weary in its sophistication. The scandal...
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News Corp. Is Freaking Out

Sep 8, 10 | 7:48 AM   byMichael Wolff

“You don’t get it,” a member of News Corporation’s inner circle in London told me last night, about the phone hacking scandal . “If there was a conspiracy in the company, the conspiracy was to keep Rupert from knowing.” That is called the circle-the-wagons defense. That’s called everybody-else-is-expendable. That’s called a total freak-out. The company has been caught as unaware, as unprepared, as incapable of responding, as on the ropes, as it ever has in its 60-year history. News Corp. only knows how to be the aggressor; now it’s on...
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I Can Tell You About Steven Rattner’s Tell-All

Sep 7, 10 | 7:56 AM   byMichael Wolff

Steven Rattner, the onetime New York Times reporter, former investment banker, would-be private equity media mogul, Hillary Clinton mega-fundraiser, and Treasury secretary-in-waiting, who became the stoic-but-obviously-disappointed Obama administration almost-car Tsar, and who is now being investigated by the SEC and the New York state attorney general for a kickback scheme involving his old firm, has written a tell-all about his brief time in the Obama administration helping to rescue the American automobile industry. It is being billed as the first Obama insider account, a record...
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What Did Rupert Murdoch (and Son James) Know, and When Did They Know It?

Sep 6, 10 | 8:36 AM   byMichael Wolff

Don Van Natta Jr., the lead reporter on the New York Times’ Sunday Magazine story about the phone hacking scandal that’s engulfed some of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers in London, is a Times enforcer. When Judy Miller, the Times reporter, became a central player in the Valerie Plame scandal and her reporting in the Times about weapons of mass destruction came under question, the Times gave Van Natta the tricky assignment of covering the Times' own role in the mess (and distancing it from Miller). Van Natta is a Times...
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The Nutters Are Coming to Town

Sep 2, 10 | 8:00 AM   byMichael Wolff

How many nutters will have the opportunity to come to Washington after November? Will they be so few as to be merely eccentrics, or so many as to be the new normal? There is a fine and peculiar balance here between an establishment which regards tea party-sponsored candidates as ignorant and racist, and them becoming the establishment. This is partly because of the nature of Washington and especially the political media. These heretofore nutters become people of influence. Influence is more important than reason and intelligence. The American establishment, curiously, is extremely...
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So It’s Victory in Iraq

Sep 1, 10 | 7:43 AM   byMichael Wolff

It’s been the Neocons who have been, through a constant refinement of the goals and measures, suggesting that we’ve won the seven-year war in Iraq. Now, only slightly more judiciously, the anti-war president and his ever-voluble vice president are suggesting this, too. Well, people will say anything if it suits. David Brooks, ever trying to sugarcoat the basic Neocon position, weighs in with an assessment of Iraq in which, all things considered, he finds the seven-year effort admirable and worth it. It cost us nearly 5,000 lives and, he says, choosing the lowest possible figure,...
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What Exactly Is Glenn Beck Talking About?

Aug 31, 10 | 7:53 AM   byMichael Wolff

Nobody of a more or less liberal cast knows what to do about Glenn Beck. We don’t know what he’s saying. What he means. What he wants. Or really who he is. Rupert Murdoch, who pays him, doesn’t know either. Those exact questions above have worried him and he’s tried to have the discussion about Beck’s nature with Roger Ailes, the Fox chief who hired him, but gotten no real satisfaction. Murdoch’s wife, Wendi, makes fun of Beck. She’s quite a funny woman, and Beck is one of her punchlines. She says Beck’s name and guffaws and follows up with...
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Murdoch and the BBC: They Both Lose

Aug 30, 10 | 8:01 AM   byMichael Wolff

The MacTaggart lecture is one of the high points of the British media calendar. The climax of the Edinburgh International Television Festival, held each year as an adjunct to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and organized and sponsored by the Guardian, the MacTaggart is a purposeful dispensing of ritual and propriety. The gloves come off. Every year, it seems, the speech gets more and more pointed. The MacTaggart attracts the leading lights of British media, which effectively means either representatives of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which controls SKY, the nation’s biggest...
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Can Our Business Be Saved? Should I Take the Job?

Aug 26, 10 | 8:03 AM   byMichael Wolff

I can confirm the press reports: I’m in talks to take over the Chicago Tribune. It’s me, I understand, or Michael Eisner, who once was in the media business. (The media business may be interesting to nobody else, but once you’re in it, you’ll never get enough of it.) Discussions are ongoing. Tribune Co. creditors are, I admit, imploring me. JPMorgan Chase and the two hedge funds, Angelo Gordon & Co. and Oaktree Capital Management, who now control the company, can’t stop calling me. My family is supportive of whatever decision I might make. This is,...
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OFF THE GRID is about why the news is the news. Here are the real motivations of both media and newsmakers. Here's the backstory. This is a look at the inner workings of desperate media, the inner life of the publicity crazed, and the true meaning of the news of the day.