Is a former Rupert Murdoch confidant turned Time Warner communications executive helping engineer 21st Century Fox’s acquisition of Time Warner?
21st Century Fox, formerly known as News Corporation, recently made an $US80 billion offer to buy competing media company Time Warner.
Time Warner rejected the deal.
But this is likely just the beginning of a dance that could well end with Murdoch’s control of the rival media company. If that happens, Gary L. Ginsberg will be the man in the middle.
USA Today’s Michael Wolff reports:
Murdoch’s business is largely run on the strength of whoever has his ear. Murdoch’s former lieutenant, Gary Ginsberg, is the lieutenant of Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes. Ginsberg, forced out of Murdoch’s inner circle in a power struggle with Murdoch’s son James, nevertheless has kept close to Murdoch, playing his own long game to return.
Wolff noted in GQ in 2012 that Ginsberg, who was vice president of global marketing and corporate affairs at News Corp., was “closer to Rupert than almost anyone else.”
But Rupert’s son James reportedly pushed Ginsberg out of his father’s inner circle. The reason, it’s said, was partly the access Ginsberg afforded Wolff while the author was writing his biography of Rupert.
Murdoch himself didn’t seem concerned with how Wolff would portray him. But the book ultimately infuriated many in the News Corp. camp, and James blamed Ginsberg for mishandling the incident, according to a 2010 report in New York Magazine.
In his book, Wolff described Ginsberg as “the point man for all of the information going out of the company, as well as all of the information going into the company.” He is called the “Murdoch interpreter.”
Ginsberg is everybody’s point man. … Everybody confers with Ginsberg about what [Murdoch] is thinking — not least of all because the old man doesn’t necessarily ever say what he’s thinking, or say what he’s thinking to any one person in any consistent way — or if he does, he mumbles so much, and his accent is so thick, that you might not understand him anyway. Everybody tends to have just their piece of the story — Ginsberg pieces together the pieces.
Rupert seemed reluctant to let James force Ginsberg out of the company, but once Ginsberg heard that his job was in danger, he resigned. He then took on a similar role at Time Warner.
During his 11-year tenure at News Corp., Ginsberg was a liaison between conservative Murdoch and the Democratic Party, The New York Times notes. Ginsberg had connections to the Clintons through his former job as a White House lawyer.
Ginsberg organised a lunch for Murdoch and Bill Clinton in 2002, and the New York Post endorsed Hillary Clinton for Senate in 2006, the same year that Murdoch held a fundraiser for her at News Corp.’s headquarters in New York, according to the Times.
But Ginsberg’s attempts to cultivate a relationship between Murdoch and President Barack Obama did not lead to an endorsement ahead of the 2008 election.
Now Ginsberg is at Time Warner serving as a senior adviser to CEO Jeffrey Bewkes. He helped recruit Jeff Zucker to run CNN and aimed to take on a senior position there. But he was blocked from doing so by “internal politics at Turner,” which oversees the cable news network, according to Wolff.
Even though Time Warner turned down 21st Century Fox’s first offer, Wolff writes in USA Today that “it would be unlikely, if not unimaginable, that [Murdoch] would allow a move of this magnitude to become public without a high degree of confidence that it will succeed.”
Wolff notes that Murdoch also leaked the Dow Jones offer in 2007 as a strategic move. Ginsberg was one of the people closest to Murdoch during the Dow Jones deal.
And Ginsberg might be anxious to get back into Murdoch’s inner circle. Wolff writes that he’s “become quite restless at Time Warner after the excitement of working for Murdoch.”