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New Book: Rupert Murdoch Stupid, A Dick
Who'd have thought?
Just in time for Rupert Murdoch’s decision to step down as Fox Corp chair, Michael Wolff has a new book coming out about Murdoch, Fox News, and the blessing/curse of the network’s embrace of Donald Trump, which made Fox News the closest thing to official state media the US has ever seen, but which also ended up costing Murdoch three-quarters of a billion dollars to settle Dominion Voting Systems’ lawsuit against his company for spreading lies about it. Titled The Fall: The End of Fox News and the Murdoch Dynasty (Wonkette cut link), the book was already scheduled to come out on September 26 before Murdoch suddenly announced yesterday that he’d depart his throne of bullshit. It was awfully nice of the old crapsack liar to help Wolff with his book tour like that.
Toxic Misinformation Sphincter Rupert Murdoch Steps Down As Fox CEO, Succeeded By His Toxic Misinformation Sphincter Son Lachlan
New York magazine has an excerpt of Wolff’s new book, and like his 2018 holy shit! exposé of the Trump White House, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (also Wonkette cut link) — which got source Steve Bannon shitcanned — it’s wonderfully dishy and full of how the hell did he find that? revelations, the biggest being the real reason that Tucker Carlson got fired from Fox even while he was its biggest star. Turns out that it had nothing to do with Tucker being a big sexist asshole who couldn’t stop saying the “C”-word; nor was it because he was a big sexist asshole who tried to get Fox’s comms chief Irena Briganti fired. Nor was it, as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. just knew, because Tucker angered Big Pharma, although nobody took that seriously, not even Kennedy. As it happens, we’ve already mentioned it! Can you guess, can you?
No, it is not even Tucker’s weird attack on pandas for being sex addicts, it was the Dominion settlement, that is our spoiler, and you prolly already saw it on Xitter or Lawrence O’Donnell last night or something. More precisely, Wolff learned that Murdoch believed with almost delusional certainty that Fox News had done nothing wrong in constantly spreading Trump disinformation about the voting machines changing votes, because after all that was Trump’s fault, not Fox’s. Belatedly realizing he was up Stinky Poo Creek without a paddle, Murdoch then started casting about for a way to keep the damages in a settlement below a billion dollars, because somehow he just couldn’t abide having that B-word associated with his failure.
So yeah, agreeing to shitcan Tucker, Fox’s biggest ratings draw — without putting it into writing — was mostly a way of holding the settlement to a smaller number; $787 million, to be precise.
Hilariously, we also learn that Murdoch initially wanted to sacrifice Sean Hannity, in part because he really liked Tucker better.
Along the way, we learn all sorts of fascinating things about Murdoch and his constant ambivalence about the creatures he unleashed on American politics and media. He never liked Trump, but decided that since Fox viewers wanted as much Trump as the network could air, possibly more, then by golly Fox and Trump would be synonymous. After Bill O’Reilly was fired, Murdoch gave Tucker Carlson his old slot, leading in to Hannity’s show, because, well, he had no fucking idea who Carlson really is:
Murdoch made the unexpected move because he believed Carlson to be a moderate Republican who could be a counterweight — someone who could pull Fox away from reflexive Trumpism.
Oops. There’s also a cute set-piece in which Carlson declared, at a swanky party to friends and admirers that heavens no, he wasn’t a racist; he just didn’t care for the likes of O’Reilly, that scruffy Papist.
“You know, I am not antisemitic, and I am not anti-Black; that’s a complete misunderstanding of what I am,” he would explain, this side of the edge of irony. “I am anti-Catholic.”
Wolff argues that Carlson’s professed bigotries fit perfectly with his revanchist politics, “recalling an earlier America. The tumble into a diverse immigrant society began with the Catholics. Yes, take this fight back to the 1920s, when the sides were clear.”
We guess that might also explain Carlson’s fondness for the Immigration Act of 1924, which set strict national quotas that favored northern Europeans and limited immigration by your Irish and Italians, to say nothing of Eastern European Jews, who were suspected of Bolshevism and therefore were shit out of luck when a bit over a decade later they were trying to flee Hitler. And today? Diversity, shmishmersity.
Wolff paints Murdoch as a pathetic weasel who professes he can’t stand the crap he’s selling, but what can he do since it sells so well?
He might despise Trump, but Fox must remain the dominant cable-news channel, holding and increasing its market share and continuing to generate enormous profits. But was there any other way to do this than giving the audience what it wanted, which was lot and lots of Donald Trump?
Well hey, maybe Ron DeSantis would do? We get a hilarious scene where the DeSantises kind-of audition for Tuck and his wife Susie by having lunch at Casa Carlson. It does not go well. Oh, no, it does not:
Carlson put DeSantis’s fate to a focus group of one: his wife. When they lived in Washington, Susie Carlson wouldn’t even see politicians. Carlson himself may have known everyone, dirtied himself for a paycheck, but not his wife. In her heart, it was 1985 and still a Wasp world, absent people, in Susie Carlson’s description and worldview, who were “impolite, hyperambitious, fraudulent.” She had no idea what was happening in the news and no interest in it. Her world was her children, her dogs, and the books she was reading. So the DeSantises were put to the Susie Carlson test.
They failed it miserably. They had a total inability to read the room — one with a genteel, stay-at-home woman, here in her own house. For two hours, Ron DeSantis sat at her table talking in an outdoor voice indoors, failing to observe any basics of conversational ritual or propriety, reeling off an unself-conscious list of his programs and initiatives and political accomplishments. Impersonal, cold, uninterested in anything outside of himself.The Carlsons are dog people with four spaniels, the progeny of other spaniels they have had before, who sleep in their bed. DeSantis pushed the dog under the table. Had he kicked the dog? Susie Carlson’s judgment was clear: She did not ever want to be anywhere near anybody like that ever again. Her husband agreed. DeSantis, in Carlson’s view, was a “fascist.” Forget Ron DeSantis.
Oh, there’s so much more, like the glimpses of Murdoch’s fraught relationship with his eldest boy, Lachlan, who’s taking over the businesses but has no interest in them, or Murdoch’s bafflement at the fact that his network hired — and gave prime time shows to — people like Jesse Watters and Greg Gutfeld: “‘Do you think they’re funny?’ an unconvinced Murdoch was asking people.”
Rupert Murdoch comes off as such a fatuous dipshit with such terrible judgment that you almost end up wondering how he managed to do such very real damage to American media and politics, until you remember that however much he might profess to be appalled, simply appalled by those buffoons he elevated to power, Murdoch knew he’d get rich doing it.
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