Rupert Murdoch:

The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard

If you want to understand how modern media has changed the world, this is the one book you must read.

Rupert Murdoch is the man everyone talks about but no one knows. He’s everywhere, a larger-than-life media titan who has spent a lifetime building his company, News Corporation, from a small, struggling newspaper business in Australia into an international media powerhouse. Rupert Murdoch charts the real story behind the rise of News Corp and the Fox network: the secret debt crises and family deals, the huge cash flows through the offshore archipelagos, the New York party that saved his empire, the covert government inquiries, the tax investigations, and the bewildering duels with Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Gerry Levin, Ron Perelman, Newt Gingrich, cable king John Malone, Michael Eisner, Tony Blair, and televangelist-turned-diamond-miner Pat Robertson.

Murdoch’s story, however, is more than just how one man built a global business. Rupert Murdoch is both a biography of Murdoch the man (including the divorce from his wife, Anna; his remarriage to a woman young enough to be his granddaughter; and the struggle between his two sons for eventual control of the family holdings) and a “follow the money” investigation that reveals how he has managed to have such a huge impact on the communications revolution that promises to utterly transform life in the twenty-first century.

The investigation concentrates on Murdoch’s three great campaigns: in the 1980s, when his determination to launch an American television network overturned the media industries of three countries; in 1997, when Murdoch took on every broadcasting group in America; and the process of reinventing himself since then, culminating in his bid to win DirecTV from General Motors.

This is the saga of the man who has stalked, infuriated, cajoled, threatened, and spooked the media industry for three decades, whose titanic gambles have shaped and reshaped the media landscape. Win or lose, Murdoch is the man who has changed everything. And Neil Chenoweth is the right person to tell the story: In 1990 he wrote a magazine article that prompted a secret Australian government inquiry into Rupert Murdoch’s family companies, and he’s been on the Murdoch case since then. Chenoweth reveals what no person ever has about the man (and the company) who is probably the most significant media player of them all.

About the Author

 

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; 1st ed edition (November 12, 2002)

 

 

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From Booklist

From the Inside Flap

If you want to understand how modern media has changed the world, this is the one book you must read.

Rupert Murdoch is the man everyone talks about but no one knows. He’s everywhere, a larger-than-life media titan who has spent a lifetime building his company, News Corporation, from a small, struggling newspaper business in Australia into an international media powerhouse. Rupert Murdoch charts the real story behind the rise of News Corp and the Fox network: the secret debt crises and family deals, the huge cash flows through the offshore archipelagos, the New York party that saved his empire, the covert government inquiries, the tax investigations, and the bewildering duels with Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Gerry Levin, Ron Perelman, Newt Gingrich, cable king John Malone, Michael Eisner, Tony Blair, and televangelist-turned-diamond-miner Pat Robertson.

Murdoch’s story, however, is more than just how one man built a global business. Rupert Murdoch is both a biography of Murdoch the man (including the divorce from his wife, Anna; his remarriage to a woman young enough to be his granddaughter; and the struggle between his two sons for eventual control of the family holdings) and a “follow the money” investigation that reveals how he has managed to have such a huge impact on the communications revolution that promises to utterly transform life in the twenty-first century.

The investigation concentrates on Murdoch’s three great campaigns: in the 1980s, when his determination to launch an American television network overturned the media industries of three countries; in 1997, when Murdoch took on every broadcasting group in America; and the process of reinventing himself since then, culminating in his bid to win DirecTV from General Motors.

This is the saga of the man who has stalked, infuriated, cajoled, threatened, and spooked the media industry for three decades, whose titanic gambles have shaped and reshaped the media landscape. Win or lose, Murdoch is the man who has changed everything. And Neil Chenoweth is the right person to tell the story: In 1990 he wrote a magazine article that prompted a secret Australian government inquiry into Rupert Murdoch’s family companies, and he’s been on the Murdoch case since then. Chenoweth reveals what no person ever has about the man (and the company) who is probably the most significant media player of them all.

 

 Amazon Reviews

 

Rupert Murdoch as Hamlet

Neil Chenoweth’s brilliant biography of press baron Rupert Murdoch, “The Untold Story of the World’s Media Wizard,” portrays the Australian native as a kind of Hamlet, seeing in every business deal the danger of being poisoned by his opponents because Australia’s business elites appeared to him as an evil Uncle Claudius when they had tried to cheat him and his family out of their inheritance upon the death of his father and namesake, publisher Keith Rupert Murdoch.

Chenoweth writes with a combination of bemused disapproval and distant understanding of Murdoch’s ruthless conniving with and against other ruthless connivers, as he takes his News Corp into the media digital world of the 21rst century, forever borrowing to keep his empire of media holdings around the world afloat. Murdoch is always juggling several business deals at the same time, one layered under the other, all impacting each other, daily stock fluctuations a constant threat to his deals, his endless lobbying of British, American, and Australian government officials to insure favorable rulings for his interests creating an army of enemies at every turn.

The more humorous episodes in the book detail Murdoch’s consistently contradictory claims of corporate residency before government bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Serve and Federal Communications Commission in the United States, the Inland Revenue bureau in Britain, in order to pay no or less taxes in the United States, Britain, and Australia, and to get around various ownership requirements based on nationality. Murdoch, Chenoweth shows, is a big fan of tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, Channel Islands, and Bermuda.

While Chenoweth generously details Murdoch’s guileless imposition of his right wing politics on all his publications, which by the 21rst century included the prestigious Times of London and Wall Street Journal, he structures this biography around important media deals that crowned Murdoch as the most influential player of the digital age. Therefore the real meat of this book concerns the creation of the Fox television network, the right wing Fox News cable network, the Fox movie studios, (from which the name Fox is then attached to numerous holdings), HarperCollins book publishing, his global satellite TV empire begun with the modest structure of SKY Global, and Star TV in China.

Chenoweth does not go overboard in discussing the messy succession for News Corp among his children which remains quite murky at this juncture, or his messy personal life, which does not include his recent separation from his third wife, Wendi Deng.

If there is a weakness in this book it is the failure to give Murdoch his proper due as a journalist and publisher. His ruthless destruction of the British Printers Union, which helped to diminish the power of unions in Britain, is nothing to celebrate in church. But no newspaper in Britain, or the United States, or anywhere else in the world, refused to accept the digital printing technology of the 21rst century. In that sense, Murdoch did the dirty work for all of us. And whatever we might thing about the transformation of American journalism into the ideological bickering from the English tradition, and I detest it, that is the contemporary reality and Murdoch does it better than anybody else.

For all his aura as a deal making, international businessman, Rupert Murdoch possesses a better understanding of journalism’s basics than any other media owner. He understands a good story and how to tell it, and the medium is just another venue to uphold that age old standard. It is instructive that he began his Fox television network by hiring the best writers from all of television and paid them big time money.

[Hansen Alexander’s books include the comic novel, “The Death of Chauvinism,” and “An Introduction to the Laws of the United States in the 21rst Century,” an Amazon e-book exclusive.]

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