Murdoch’s Magnified Eccentricity
There are signs that Murdoch’s attention is flagging, and what might be politely called his increasing eccentricity is magnified by his addiction to Twitter—that device helpfully enabling people to write faster than they can think—with such effusions as “Why is Jewish owned press so consistently anti Israel in every crisis?” or “Moses film attacked on Twitter for all white cast. Since when are Egyptians not white? All I know are.” And there is also bitter tension within the family and beyond. Elisabeth Murdoch, Rupert’s daughter, is leaving the television production company she founded with his help.
She has also left Matthew Freud, her husband, partly because of a difference between them about Blair. Four years ago Blair stood beside the River Jordan clad in gleaming white biblical clothes, as godfather to the elder of the two girls who were being christened, the young daughters of Murdoch and Wendi Deng, his third wife. Now Murdoch is divorcing Wendi, apparently on account of her tendresse for Blair. No, Blair is not a man who brings good fortune to those who deal with him.
Part of Davies’s charge is that Murdoch knew about the hacking all along. Although hard to prove one way or the other, direct orders and precise knowledge aren’t the way Murdoch works, which is by string-pulling, winks and nods behind the scenes, and always some degree of plausible deniability. At the same time he plainly bears responsibility for the prevailing culture at his newspapers: anything goes, and no questions asked.
That, and an assumption that they would always get away with it. Despite everything that has happened, that cast of mind hasn’t entirely vanished.