Then last month the political party he supports and largely owns lost the election. When you have Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Roger Ailes, Karl Rove, John Bolton, Liz Cheney, William Kristol, Dick Morris, Oliver North, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich on the books and have all your media properties conduct a virulent, ad hominem campaign against the president, then watch the Republicans lose so convincingly, it must be hard to know where you went wrong.
Then on Monday Murdoch announced his reluctant splitting of News Corp. in two, dividing the company between News Corp.–containing the mostly hard-copy waning press properties he dabbles in as an expensive hobby–and Fox Group, made up of the money-making media properties, like the Fox movie studio, the Fox TV network, and Fox News, that the company’s non-family and therefore non-voting shareholders prefer. The restructuring was forced upon Murdoch in the wake of the revelation that phone hacking had become quotidian at his British newspapers, a crime of which, despite his addiction to editorial micromanagement, he has always denied all knowledge. Had he not taken the initiative and divided his company, the report by Lord Justice Leveson on corruption in the British press might have demanded a more painful remedy.
To stem the damage being done to his company’s profit centers, and to appease one of his biggest sleeping shareholders, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Murdoch closed the News of the World, the scandal rag he used to intimidate those who did not toe his line, and he lost his chief executive in London, Rebekah Brooks, who awaits trial for interfering with the course of justice, among other charges. Almost all the other 86 arrested so far, except those they are accused of bribing, are former Murdoch employees.
There is more fallout from the split. Tom Mockridge, who was successfully running Murdoch’s Sky Italia satellite TV business when he was hastily asked by Murdoch to replace Brooks in London, was called in to urgently clean the stables. Perhaps he did too good a job, because when it came to finding a head for the new print division, the spot was given to Robert Thomson, who as senior editor at the Wall Street Journal has been administering the conversion of the once-unimpeachable business paper to the Murdoch culture.
This Monday’s announcement about News Corp.’s forced bifurcation at least allowed Murdoch to smother news of the closure of his latest brainchild, The Daily, the iPadonly news publication that failed to find a readership. Murdoch has never really understood business in cyberspace, as his disastrous purchase and mismanagement of the once burgeoning online social media property MySpace attests, but since owning an iPad he has taken to tweeting, which offers a window into the sort of half-baked outmoded bombast his editors daily have to endure. His failure to understand why The Daily was unlikely to work so long as it remained confined solely to the iPad shows that Murdoch still does not get the digital world.