Wolff on Murdoch

Laughing all the way to the bank

Was anyone surprised that Vanity Fair’s Michael Wolff landed a hefty book deal to write about Rupert Murdoch’s pursuit of Dow Jones? Wolff’s calculatedly counterintuitive take on Murdoch in the September VF (which, let’s be honest, had “book proposal” stamped all over it) was a hillock of compassion astride the mountain of evidence that Murdoch has always put money and power ahead of good journalism.

In that piece, Wolff makes a virtue out of, among other things, the fact that “it’s hard to get fired from News Corp…even if you talked dirty to an underling, as Bill O’Reilly did, or took money and favors from your sources, as Richard Johnson at the New York Post did.” And he suggests that what was really behind the uproar over Murdoch’s bid for Dow Jones is a sort of class-based fear of cowardly journalistic Establishment sheep confronted by the inscrutable, I-did-it-my-way success of Murdoch the Barbarian.

Forget the book, let’s go straight to the big screen!

The kicker here is that Murdoch has promised to cooperate. I’m confident that as Wolff tucks into his explication of the tragically misunderstood Mr. Murdoch, he will give Rupert no cause to regret his decision.

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Brent Cunningham is CJR’s managing editor.