Rupert's Powerful Personal Enemies
As an analyst warns the News Corp. mogul to watch his back, THR tracks the rivals ready to pounce.
Get your pitchforks and torches. There's a witch hunt brewing, and the target is Rupert Murdoch. At least that's the opinion of media analyst Laura Martin, who wrote Aug. 22 that Wall Street is underestimating the "long list of powerful personal Murdoch enemies." She's referring, of course, to the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, which she posits will be used by Murdoch's rivals to try
to bring him down. "They smell weakness," she wrote. "We expect the powerful enemies of conservative-leaning Fox News and The Wall Street Journal to exhibit sharper elbows in an election year like 2012." Martin failed to name these venomous adversaries, so THR fills in the (possible) blanks.
The former British prime minister had a falling-out with Murdoch in 2006 when The Sun published that Brown's son had cystic fibrosis. Brown, who believes he was hacked, spoke of "absolute proof" that Murdoch papers hired "known criminals." Murdoch called the accusations "total lies."
In October 2010, the liberal philanthropist gave watchdog group Media Matters $1 million to help wage war on Murdoch's Fox News Channel. The organization, which hosts such campaigns as NewsCorpWatch and Drop Fox, has since issued about 100 reports on the hacking scandal.
In July, the U.K. Labour Party leader railed against the notion that News Corp., in light of its "terrible practices," should be allowed to purchase 100 percent of BSkyB. He also has tried to force Murdoch to break up his U.K. media holdings, saying he has "too much power over British public life."
In 2009, Murdoch's Sky Italia accused the Italian prime minister's Mediaset of violating antitrust laws. At an August hearing on the hacking inquiry, Murdoch said News Corp. in Italy is "a particularly difficult situation" and that Berlusconi is a "particularly tricky competitor."
The actor, an alleged hacking victim, has become the frontman for an organization called Hacked Off, which demands more oversight of the U.K. media. At the group's kickoff event in July, he said, "Grotesque abuses have been allowed to continue because of the cowardice of our politicians."