There is a fabulous story in the new Vanity Fair about how Rupert Murdoch has mellowed. A combination of success, age and the influence a new younger wife has brought him to a new more nuanced view of the world. Maybe the news hook is that Murdoch might have the New York Post endorse Obama, but for me, the more touching part is how he seems almost embarrased about Fox News.
Fox has been his alter ego. For a long time he was in love with the Fox chief, Roger Ailes, because he was even more Murdoch than Murdoch. And yet now the embarrassment can’t be missed—he mumbles even more than usual when called on to justify it; he barely pretends to hide the way he feels about Bill O’Reilly. And while it is not possible that he would give Fox up—because the money is the money; success trumps all—in the larger sense of who he is, he seems to want to hedge his bets.
Just before the New York Democratic primary, when I found myself undecided between Clinton and Obama, I said to Murdoch (a little flirtation, like a little gossip, softens him), “Rupert, I don’t know who to vote for—so I’m going to give you my vote. You choose.”
He paused, considered, nodded his head slowly: “Obama—he’ll sell more papers.”
He’s like a prisoner of Fox. He can’t change the formula because the viewers need the red meat conservatism and CNN amd MSNBC are already working the liberal side of the street. So he’s got to grin and bear it.