Earlier this morning, we told you some details about the buzzed-about New York Magazine profile on Rupert Murdoch and his battle against The New York Times and Google.
Gabe Sherman takes a close look at Murdoch’s son, James and how he has been infiltrating on his father’s territory.
He is described as an “introvert,” a loner artist type who seemed to have a blasé attitude about joining News Corp. during his younger years. At an newspaper internship, he was photographed taking a nap on a couch during a press conference. The photo was splashed across tabloids, which lead to James’ “suspicion” of the press. He was born in London and raised in New York and went to elite private school Horace Mann. He and “was into music and wore long black wool trench coats and Chuck Taylors.” He dropped out of Harvard and started a hip-hop label called Rawkus.
Back at News Corp
Rupert bought the record label in 1996 and lured James back into the News Corp fold. out James in charge of News Corp.’s internet division, which was later “gutted” when the bubble burst in 2000. He was transferred to Hong Kong to run Star TV, and got his feet wet in the television business.
At 30, James left Star TV in 2003 to run BSkyB as CEO. According to Sherman, “At BSkyB, his business instincts emerged. Like his father, he could make gut decisions and seemed to relish provocation.” “James played it so right,” a former senior News Corp. executive told NYMag. “He had left the country, and he established himself.”
According to Sherman, James pushed out Gary Ginsberg, a longtime communications chief and Rupert’s trusted confidant. James was perturbed by about revelations in Michael Wolff’s book The Man Who Owns the News. He thought the author should not have had access to News Corp., and Ginsberg was in charge of sculpting Murdoch’s image. Ginsberg was out of the company by November. He now works for Time Warner.
Sherman concludes that James has positioned himself to take over News Corp., with special care:
James’s rapid ascent comes with major risks. His father is by no means ready for the pasture, however obsessive and retrograde his enthusiasms, and members of Rupert’s inner circle wonder if he recognises James’s power grabs. “James will need to be careful,” a former executive says. “As he moves into the orbit of the Sun King, the more chance you have of getting burned. The challenge is not to outshine Dad. James can’t ever put Rupert into a position where he’ll be forced to stop something or do something he doesn’t want to do.” News Corp. executives were surprised when, in January, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, News Corp.’s second-largest shareholder, endorsed James to be Rupert’s successor. But as much as James wants the succession question closed, it must be frustrating for the would-be heir that Rupert keeps his options open. Earlier this month, Rupert took Lachlan on a sailing trip in the South Pacific along with Ailes. It was Ailes and Lachlan’s first reunion since they clashed five years ago—a surprising move that reignited speculation that Rupert is trying to repair relations and bring Lachlan back into the empire. Elisabeth, too, is hovering in the background. “I think all three of them will be in the company,” says a former executive who is close to the family. “Someone once said to me, ‘If you add Lachlan, James, and Elisabeth up, you get Murdoch.’ ”
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