OFF THE GRID

Mosque Rage Is About Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.

Aug 23, 10 | 8:02 AM   byMichael Wolff
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Frank Rich neatly traces the entire brouhaha about the near-Ground Zero Islamic center back to Fox News and the New York Post.

I can attest to the obsession inside of Murdoch’s News Corp. about Muslims. I’ve had conversations with Murdoch in which he, in pseudo-scientific fashion, parses the problem with Muslim intelligence (in brief, they marry their cousins), and conversations with Roger Ailes about the great Islamic plot to bring the terror war to his house in New Jersey.

In other words, all this stuff out of News Corp. is the real, unfiltered thing: retro, primitive, weird, reactionary, racist, paranoid, really, really old-guy stuff.

Indeed, the Islamic center controversy says as much about the internal goings-on at News Corp. as it does about the plight of Muslims in America.

There are two factions inside of News Corp.: the reasonably modern and corporate, and the aggressively uncultivated and atavistic.

The former was led by COO Peter Chernin and PR chief Gary Ginsberg, who treated the wild side of the company as a zoo to be guarded and contained—they got to be quite good at minding the animals. The wild side was represented by Ailes and the Fox stars, and by the tabloid gang at the Post and Murdoch’s papers in London (his Australian papers were uncultivated, but middle market).

Murdoch himself has a divided temperament, both mean and ugly, and yet, led by his wife Wendi, more and more conventionally aspirational and well-behaved.

The truth about Murdoch is that he’s always been most influenced by the last person he spoke to—making News Corp. politics all about being the last person to speak to him.

Chernin and Ginsberg were ousted last year in a putsch staged by an odd-couple combination of Ailes and Murdoch’s children—who saw themselves as true leaders of the modern, corporate, forward-looking side of the company.

As soon as Chernin and Ginsberg were gone the face-off became between the children and Ailes.

Again, it is about who has access to Murdoch—and Ailes is in New York. Murdoch, on his part, is told enough by his children, wife, and friends that Ailes is nuts (Murdoch: “He’s crazy!”) to want to distance himself from Ailes. But, at the same time, he also knows that his children are, relentlessly, trying to pressure him to give up more and more authority. So Ailes is his mad dog against his children.

While his children take over ever-larger parts of News Corp.’s entertainment and international operations, at the same time, Roger Ailes and the money-losing tabloid thugs at the Post have a freer run than they’ve had in a long time.

But in the end, they lose and the children win. It’s a dying roar.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at VanityFair.com, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at michael@newser.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @MichaelWolffNYC.
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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.

 

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