Mogul under the microscope
He rules over great distances through authority, loyalty, example and fear,” says Andrew Neil, whose reign as the editor of The Sunday Times is explored in great depth. Installed by Murdoch in what is shown as typical fashion, Neil was a conservative ally whose paper waged an extraordinary campaign against the ”medical establishment” by suggesting AIDS was not linked to HIV.
Murdoch’s global media operations are healthily peppered with ideological warriors who read from the same song sheet.
McKnight walks us through the process: at the creation of Fox News, upon repurchasing the New York Post and closer to home at The Australian, journalists and editors were fired or pressured to resign, replaced by concordant friends and Murdoch loyalists. Indeed, the overwhelming picture of News Corporation painted here is that of an old boys’ club, with the same names, inevitably male, cropping up again at the initiation of a new conservative project.
On the question of News filling a gap in the media market, McKnight is unequivocal. Murdoch is, in his own words, an ”ideas man” whose raison d’etre is ”trying to influence people”. Profits are important but News maintains chronically unprofitable papers for the sake of influence and because Murdoch is ”as much a preacher and a moralist as he is a businessman”.