Rupert Murdoch is on Zoom, but can he control News Corporation from Montana? – The Australian Financial Review

Short, pithy, to the point. Rupert may be the only person in the world to fully comprehend his particular definition of toffs, but you know they’re dodgy.

The telephone has always been Murdoch’s weapon of choice in terrifying newspaper editors (and the odd politician) around the world. He’s a master of the hanging conversation, the long-drawn-out silence that leaves his panicking subject desperate, babbling wildly to fill the void. Has he fallen asleep or is he so appalled by what I just said?

But telecommuting? Murdoch on a Zoom call would be just another mortal, as you peer at what’s happening in his background. It’s passionless. Even Darth Vader would struggle to appear threatening on Google Meets.

Then there’s the office. Murdoch no longer has one. The agreement says he will use a “visiting employee share space” or a conference room when he turns up.

After Fox News founder Roger Ailes helped force Lachlan out of News in 2005, he crowed that he ended up with Lachlan’s office next to Rupert. Ailes never actually used the room, but real estate is power at News. And now Rupert doesn’t have an office?

There are some events telecommuting can’t cover. Will Rupert make the trip from Montana for Ken Cowley’s funeral? Presumably not, given he didn’t make the journey to Melbourne for the memorial service of his sister Anne Kantor, which was attended by Lachlan.

But Rupert’s own stated “deep regret” this week at the passing of one of “Australia’s most outstanding executives” does leave a lot unsaid about the duo’s relationship in the latter stages of their careers.

In April 1997, when Cowley stepped down as head of News Australia in favour of Lachlan, he stayed on the News board amid hints his departure was not as cordial as the press release made out.

One story, perhaps apocryphal, has Murdoch sitting down on the first seat in the News jet on a New Zealand flight earlier in 1997, only for the hostess to tell him, “I’m sorry, but that’s Mr Cowley’s seat.”

It was surely coincidence that in the years after Cowley’s departure, Pacific Magazines, which he chaired, would have its annual meeting in Melbourne on the same day as the News AGM in Adelaide, so he didn’t share a stage with the Murdochs.

More recently, it was clear the Murdochs’ relationship with their long-time lieutenant cooled a little after Cowley told The Australian Financial Review’s Anne Hyland in 2014 that Elisabeth was the smartest of Rupert’s children and that Lachlan was “a nice man, but he’s not a great businessman”.

At the time, Cowley also labelled The Australian ­newspaper, which he founded in 1964 with Murdoch, as “pathetic”.

But some things are better left unsaid…

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Select the fields to be shown. Others will be hidden. Drag and drop to rearrange the order.
  • Image
  • SKU
  • Rating
  • Price
  • Stock
  • Availability
  • Add to cart
  • Description
  • Content
  • Weight
  • Dimensions
  • Additional information
  • Attributes
  • Custom attributes
  • Custom fields
Click outside to hide the comparison bar