Absolutely not on both counts.
Then why is everybody and his brother crucifying the 80 year-old media mogul like he's the devil incarnate? Why have they all but dug his grave and shoved him in it?
And why are so many overhyping the effect the UK-based scandal will have on the $32 billion public company Murdoch grew from a single Australian newspaper, a company that employs 50,000 people?
Even if you've been living under a rock, you couldn't possibly escape the media hype over this scandal:
- Murdoch Scandal: The Fish Stinks from Head Down
- Murdoch's Fatal Flaw
- The End of Murdoch: How the Phone Hacking Scandal Could Topple the Press Baron
- Murdoch's Watergate Unravels
[Murdoch] gets to hobnob with Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and the like as if he weren't constantly juggling companies and finances to save his life. He is viewed as an elder statesman, when in reality he's the same con man he's always been.He has bought his way to political power in every nation he can. He must be aghast that all the money he's spent on the British government can't shield him from public outrage over spying on a murdered girl's telephone.And that was from a writer / stand-up comedian whose blog is called Fun & Games. Wonder what he's like when he's serious?
Rupert's companies have long been happy to make up the truth as they went along.
So there is justice in seeing Murdoch get whacked over his companies' failings in journalism. It is long overdue and well-earned. It's like Al Capone getting caught for extortion instead of tax fraud.
Here's the thing. I don't know Murdoch from a hole in the wall and I don't know a lot about how he conducts business. But I do know he's been remarkably successful in the highly competitive, challenging, and tumultuous global media market. That's for sure.
Now, don't get me wrong ...
- Do I find the tactics employed by News Corp.'s UK properties that have recently come to light reprehensible and morally repugnant?
- Would I have handled the crisis more aggressively by sacrificing a top exec or two to show I mean business and won't stand for that sort of thing?
- Do I think Murdoch will do that if it means securing his bid for BSkyB?
- Do I think everybody, including the SEC, will pile on and kick the crap out of Murdoch while he's down?
- Do I think this will all eventually blow over without significant damage to Murdoch and News Corp?
So, why all the vitriolic hype, then? Five reasons:
- It's Jealousy. News Corp. has emerged from the media turmoil of the past couple of decades a big winner, and that pisses people off. It drives competitors crazy that he's managed to grow in a shrinking market.
- It's Politics. Not to be obvious, but just about everyone views Murdoch as the "longtime torchbearer for conservative politics," vis-Ã -vis the Fox News network, so the left despise him. The fact that he's at times backed left-leaning candidates, however, seems to escape people.
- It's the culture. In our "convict first, ask questions later" culture, the media falls all over itself rushing to judge Dominique Strauss-Kahn over fabricated rape charges, Navy Capt. Owen Honors who got a raw deal, Sarah Palin over the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, or Toyota over the phantom accelerator pedal crisis.
- It's the Ayn Rand thing. Murdoch is a highly competitive businessman who puts winning ahead of everything in the mold of Ayn Rand. It's really polarizing - you either love that or hate it.
- It's the "fall of the mighty" thing. The left-leaning media really get off on seeing successful business giants in trouble ... unless they're liberals, of course. They just do, like it or not.
UPDATE 7/13/11 8:00 am PST: News Corp. dropped its bid for BSkyB. That was a smart move.
Also check out:
- In a Crisis, Ignore the Media
- In Defense of BP CEO Tony Hayward
- 10 Leadership Lessons From the Playground
Image: World Economic Forum via Flickr