Does Rupert Murdoch Despise Bill O’Reilly?

The question of Rupert Murdoch’s relationship with his top-rated TV blowhard, Bill O’Reilly, has come up before. Now, courtesy of Michael Calderone at Politico, an excerpt from Michael Wolff’s upcoming biography of Murdoch is asserting that:

“It is not just Murdoch (and everybody else at News Corp.’s highest levels) who absolutely despises Bill O’Reilly, the bullying, mean-spirited, and hugely successful evening commentator, but Roger Ailes himself who loathes him. Success, however, has cemented everyone to each other.”

If Murdoch and Ailes “absolutely despise” O’Reilly, I can only hope they come to despise me as much. The apparent reward for such hatred is endless fawning, copious perks, and a brand new multimillion dollar contract renewal. But I wouldn’t get too excited. Wolff provides very little support for his conclusion, and what he does provide is weak and contradicted by past comments and behavior.

Wolff suggests that Murdoch’s purchase of Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, was in part to distance himself from the tenor of Fox News. Though why he thinks that the famously conservative newspaper is a departure from the obvious partiality of Fox is a mystery. Wolff seems to think that Murdoch finds the more sedate bias of the Journal preferable to the loudmouth variety at Fox. However, he doesn’t consider the more likely scenario that Murdoch will turn up the volume at the Journal. He has already said publicly that wants the Journal to publish shorter, punchier stories, with less business and more general news. And Wolff, at least in this excerpt, doesn’t consider that a major factor in purchasing the Journal was to beef up resources for Murdoch’s recently launched Fox Business Network.

Politico’s Calderone curiously opines that Murdoch’s political views are “difficult to pin down.” In support of this he cites Murdoch’s backing for Thatcher, Reagan, Blair, Koch, and McCain. That seems pretty easy to pin down to me. They are all notable conservatives with the exception of Tony Blair, who started out as a progressive Labour Party leader, but ended up as a Bush lapdog. And rumors have it that Murdoch and Blair made a pact early on that if Blair did not interfere with Murdoch’s business aspirations, Murdoch would see to it that News Corp. enterprises (including the London Times, the Sun, and the Sky News satellite network) would stand behind Blair.

As further evidence of Murdoch’s squishy liberalism, the article cites the New York Post’s endorsement of Obama over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. But the endorsement from the Post reads like an outright condemnation. Here are some highlights from the Post’s column endorsing Obama:

  • “…an untried candidate, to be sure…”
  • “Obama is not without flaws.”
  • “For all his charisma and his eloquence, the rookie senator sorely lacks seasoning…”
  • “Regarding national security, his worldview is beyond naive…”
  • “His all-things-to-all-people approach to complicated domestic issues also arouses scant confidence”
  • “…he is not Team Clinton…That counts for a very great deal.”
  • “…we don’t agree much with Obama on substantive issues.”

With friends like that, who needs enemas? The Post eventually endorsed McCain in the general election. And unlike the Obama endorsement, it was enthusiastic and complimentary.

I don’t for minute believe that Murdoch has become disenchanted with O’Reilly or Fox News. His views are as consistent as ever. In September he lashed out at Obama saying that he is a naive, 60’s style Socialist, and that his administration would worsen inflation, ruin America’s relationships with other nations, and drive companies to leave the country. All achievements for which George W. Bush can already claim credit.

Shallow analysis like that of Wolff and Politico has been asserted before. In the end, Murdoch is who he has always been: an irredeemably conservative corporatist, consumed with lust for money and power. As long as O’Reilly contributes to those goals, Murdoch’s love for him will endure.

Hilarious Update: Kara Swisher at All Things Digital has dredged up a laughably appropriate example of Michael Wolff’s deficiency of insight. In 1998 Wolff said:

“I think the myth of the Internet is that it is going to come into everybody’s home.”

Good call, Mikey.


6 thoughts on “Does Rupert Murdoch Despise Bill O’Reilly?

  1. Mark,

    I saw this yesterday and skipped it because it’s pretty much a rehash of an old story we’ve both already covered. Plus, what’s so strange about a successful capitalist cashing in on some product he personally despises? There was a panelist on Fox News’ Saturday business block a while back (whose name escapes me at the moment) who once said (to great applause) that ethics and investing are mutually exclusive.

    So Murdoch grubbing for a buck using an object like O’Reilly he despises is no huge surprise.

    However, the key ingredient missing in Michael Calderone’s thin, late to the party analysis is the point I’ve brought up on my blog and I’m sure you’re well aware of (even if you don’t mention it here) is Rupert’s “squishy” liberalism isn’t based upon an abandonment of his core economic libertarian faith but socially based.

    The context, of course, is Rupert’s trophy wife (38 years his junior) who is a liberal and travels in a liberal social set. That’s what triggers all of that Rupert is sour on Ailes and O’Reilly stuff. Rupert and Ailes met Obama who supposedly gets into it will Ailes. Yada, yada, yada.

    I don’t see any of Murdoch’s propaganda outlets dropping their heavy handed conservative spin. I’m sure Murdoch can hire some gag writers to come up with some witty one-liners he can use to mask his hypocrisy at social events with Wendi.

    Plus, the way Murdoch dumps wives only to pick up a new model within a year I wouldn’t doubt Wendi’s shelf life is a lot shorter than any of his conservative media holdings.

    • Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I am not saying that Murdoch tolerates O’Reilly and Ailes because they make him money. I am saying that Murdoch is still as conservative as he ever was. He agrees with O’Reilly and Ailes and is proud of Fox News. He even said that he wishes his EuroSat net, BSkyB, was more like Fox (and he was talking about editorially, not financially). Calderone and Wolff are both ridiculously off-base if they think Murdoch’s views are moving left, and neither presents any plausible evidence for their theory.

      And I don’t think Wendi is going anywhere. She has invested too much to leave the 77 year old Murdoch now. But she will be in for a fight when he kicks. There are lots of kids, some of them are running parts of the company, and they all resent each other.

  2. Mark,

    I guess I’m not clear either.

    Working backwards, while no expert on Murdoch’s soap opera of a life, he’s twice divorced women only to pick up some fresh, young meat in a year or less. Can someone dump a wife and find a new one in, say, 6 months? Sure. But I’ll stick out my neck here with the speculation he’s sniffing up the skirt of the replacement before he calls his lawyer.

    So I don’t think Wendi leaving him is the problem but vice versa. But, as you imply, at his advanced age he probably isn’t going to tire of her before he passes.

    Based upon my comment I don’t think we’re in disagreement that Rupert’s heart hasn’t turned all liberal on us. IMHO, he’s just having problems mixing work with pleasure.

    I’ll stick with the notion work’s more important to Rupert than Wendi. Otherwise, why not dump O’Reilly to impress the wife? Because it’s unclear to me that outside some social embarrassment that Rupert really finds Ailes and O’Reilly a problem. There were no signs of this schism before they married in ’99.

    Where we depart is on Wolff. I read some recent stuff where Murdoch was whining the author misrepresented his opinion on Fox News. Wolff’s reply? I’ve got all of Murdoch’s conversations on tape so let him posture in the media. He’ll get embarrassed in court.

    I think the disconnect here is Calderone’s pathetic article. He’s ignorant of much of the context Wolff lays out so it’s easy to get distracted into following his red herring.

  3. You don’t have to like Mr. Murdoch’s politics (in fact, you can hate them). But you have to recognize what a great job he’s done growing News Corporation into the media industry leader. Fixated on the future, obsessive about competitors, willing to Disrupt and full of White Space projects to try new things has made News Corporation a powerhouse – at a time when most media companies (look at Tribune Corporation) fear failure. Read more at

    • If you’re saying that Murdoch is a successful businessman, fine, but so what? I do not have to give Hitler credit for making the trains run on time. I really don’t care about the trains.

      Also, if you are praising Murdoch’s business performance as compared to his industry, he is not that successful. News Corp’s stock is down 65% this year. They are not the biggest American media empire. They presently have a $6 billion market cap. Time Warner is $30 billion. Disney is $37 billion.

  4. What difference does it make? They are all neocon scum in the deep pockets of lobbyists. Hate and fear mongers that hide behind an occasional grain of truth mixed with tons of propaganda. Money is all that counts, people are there to be stepped on to reach their goals. The Post makes Russian Newspapers look like propaganda novices. Faux News attracts the dumbest people on earth.

    There’s never been a bigger bunch of sellouts hiding behind the American flag.

    If only they would get on their dinosaurs and ride back to the Garden of Eden.

Comments are closed.