New York Times reporter Jeremy W. Peters invests 2,400 words today in a Page One story delineating the “rift” between News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and his son and heir apparent, News Corp. Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch.
If News Corp. were a normal company and Rupert Murdoch a normal father, readers might glean from this report that a real power struggle is going on for the future of the company. But News Corp. is not your normal company, Rupert is not your normal dad, and there really is no struggle going on for the future of the company, only a replay of the previous “rifts” that have opened between Rupert Murdoch and his two other children by his second wife Anna—Elisabeth and Lachlan. You see, Rupert sets his adult children up to smack them down.
The first of Rupert’s heirs apparent to suffer the public humiliation of a rift was Elisabeth. In 2000, when she was 31, she escaped the family business. A Guardian story from 2000 about her departure says she was “once tipped as a business successor to her father.” What rattled her was her father’s designation of Lachlan as the new heir apparent. The Guardian continues:
Ms Murdoch is understood to have been frustrated by the promotion of her younger brother, Lachlan, 28, within the corporation. Last year he was rewarded with a place on the six-strong board at News Corp—which has a 37.5% stake in BSkyB—becoming the only one of the young Murdoch clan to make it that far.
In an interview with the magazine Newsweek last year, Rupert Murdoch had indicated that Lachlan would eventually succeed him at the head of News Corp. Last month Mr Murdoch was diagnosed as suffering from “low grade” prostate cancer.