Author: 'Henpecked' Fox owner is 'becoming something else'
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Wednesday December 3, 2008

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The author of a new book about media mogul Rupert Murdoch, which asserts that the owner of Fox News "absolutely despises" top-rated host Bill O'Reilly, believes that Murdoch's negative feelings about Fox go far beyond a personal distaste for O'Reilly's bullying.

Michael Wolff, author of The Man Who Owns the News, told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Tuesday, "I would mention ... Bill O'Reilly [to Murdoch] and he would get this look which was like revulsion." Wolff added that "I started to see this around all of Murdoch's people. ... No one says, 'O'Reilly, we hate him' ... but everybody goes into a contortion."

According to Wolff, however, the real issue is that Murdoch has "come to like the liberals more than the conservatives -- and many of them have come to like him, too. ... His life is now largely spent around people for whom Fox News is a vulgarity and a joke."

"If he became utterly convinced," asked Olberman, "not only would a liberal network make you five times the money that Fox News makes you, but one will exist and it will put Fox News out of business, would he go down the street tomorrow, shut off Fox News, and put on a liberal version of it just for the money?"

"In a New York minute," Wolff replied.

"He saw a market niche," Wolff explained. "It was easy to get into, it was easy to service these people, it was cheaper to service these people, and he went for it. ... He saw a money-making formula."

Wolff believes that now Murdoch, "wants something else. ... He is becoming something else."

Wolff explained, "One of the interesting things about Murdoch is that he is -- how would we say this? -- henpecked." In the 1980's, Murdoch was influenced by his second wife, who was "classically, and in a doctrinaire way, a Catholic conservative." But "now he's with a woman 38 years his junior, quite young, quite liberal, quite open, and certainly engaged with all of the Hollywood people."

Wolff believes that Murdoch's dream is to be accepted as a serious newsman. He "runs a perfectly up-the-middle straight news operation in the UK" and has bought the Wall Street Journal, "that's known for its seriousness, its probity, its high journalistic standards."

Ultimately, Wolff thinks Murdoch has his sights set on the New York Times. "It's there, it's in front of him, he has been openly plotting with his people, 'How do I get this?" Wolff told Olbermann. When Olbermann scoffed at the possibility, Wolff noted that "$800 million is what you can buy the New York Times for today."

This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Dec. 2, 2008.

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