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Rupert Murdoch has plenty of business to attend to. In a new interview — billed as his first substantive chat in five years with a news outlet that he doesn’t own — the 83-year-old mogul addressed many of the hot topics that have swirled in the press about his media empire and personal life.
Chief among them in the Fortune interview: He regrets being the subject of a blistering Vanity Fair expose that detailed his marital strife with his third wife, Wendi Deng; he isn’t as bullish about print as he used to be, particularly in regards to stalwart News Corp tabloid the New York Post, which he admits lost somewhere in the “area” of $40 million in 2012; and he downplayed the idea of him buying papers such as the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, as was once speculated.
Nor does Murdoch think his new Fox Sports 1 channel will put ESPN “out of business” anytime soon. The mogul does, however, reserve typical praise for the profitable Fox News Channel (“I think it has absolutely saved” the Republican party).
Below are several of the more intriguing selections from the Fortune chat:
On Vanity Fair‘s divorce expose, which included diary entries from Deng: “I was shocked. But I didn’t read them and I was not given them until after I had filed for divorce. … I regret the whole Vanity Fair thing. I wish we just could have got divorced quietly.”
On convincing his son Lachlan to return to News Corp: “Lachlan and James and I had a very serious talk about how we can work as a team in July of last year. It was at the Allen & Co. conference. We broke away for a meal. We had two or three hours together. Lachlan was not not going to come back. It was a question of how we would work together. How would we be a team?”
Asked whether Fox News has ‘hurt’ the GOP, Murdoch responds: “I think it has absolutely saved it. It has certainly given voice and hope to people who didn’t like all that liberal championing thrown at them on CNN. By the way, we don’t promote the Tea Party. That’s bullshit. We recognize their existence.”
On potentially hiring DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider: “I would like to. I’m a great admirer of hers. And I’ve had long talks with her. I think they’re at a stage — it would be improper to talk more about that. It’s really for [Fox Studio chief] Jim Gianopulos to hire her.”
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