It’s been a busy week for Rupert Murdoch. The annual shareholder meeting for News Corporation, which the octogenarian is CEO of, was held in Los Angeles today. Despite the steady tarnishing of the company’s reputation in the wake of last year’s phone hacking scandal, its share price has grown by some 50 percent in the past twelve months. While some shareholders have been calling for Murdoch to step down, a preliminary vote suggests that they are still backing News Corp.’s board.
Prior to the meeting, Murdoch displayed something of a sharp tongue on his Twitter account, a sign, perhaps, that the stresses of scandals can weigh on even the doughtiest of moguls. Even when you have massive global holdings in traditional media from TV stations, movie studios and newspapers, a free account on an internet site offers freedom of expression like nothing else, especially in a week when, aside from having to address pesky shareholders, it is revealed that a severance deal for your most trusted lieutenant at a now-shuttered tabloid was around £7 million, far in excess of the presumed £1.7 million.
Straight from the mouth of our man Murdoch himself, top five signs he is having a meltdown:
Murdoch dubs celebrities “scumbags” for campaigning for privacy laws.
“Told UK’s Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws. Trust the toffs! Transparency under attack. Bad.”
So Murdoch tweeted on October 13, the day after a high court heard that News International (NI), the British newspaper affiliate of News Corp., is facing some 170 more claims for damages for alleged phone hacking.
Singer Church responded to Murdoch that ”It would be decent to withdraw & apologise for calling me, @CharlotteChurch and @jacquihames *scumbags.*” Church and Hames, a former policewoman suing Murdoch, are both members of Hacked Off, an organization lobbying for press reforms.
Murdoch is taken aback by his own meanness.
Having made his less than warm feelings for celebrities clear, Murdoch sought to “back-pedal” his “scumbag” remark, saying on Twitter that he was”not referring to these ladies.” He then went after actor Hugh Grant, another member of Hacked Off who is suing NI for alleged hacking, with a thoroughly ad hominem tweet (which is noted on the Guardian and no longer appears on Murdoch’s Twitter feed):
“They don’t get arrested for indecency on major LA highways! Or abandon love child’s.”
Murdoch can’t help contradicting himself.
While it’s all right for Murdoch himself to engage in ad hominem critique, he encourages others to refrain from such, as he wrote on October 13 in the wake of the vice-presidential debate:
“Next debate Romney needs to ignore personal attacks and pivot to plans for millions of jobs and real opportunity for all. Only that matters.”
Murdoch thinks things are just fine in Afghanistan.
On October 14, Murdoch tweeted:
“Great day in Afghanistan. First football grand final founded by friend Saad Mohseni. Very popular. Taliban promised stay away. Go Saad!”
Perhaps the Taliban stayed away from the football grand final but what about the brutal shooting of Malala Yousafzai?
Murdoch kept his mouth shut at the meeting with shareholders
Murdoch was reportedly “fairly subdued” at the meeting. Perhaps it occurred to someone, better to do damage control later rather than not at all?
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Photo by World Economic Forum