Rupert Murdoch trusted Michael Wolff to write a nice book about him, but then Mr. Wolff went and wrote all about how Mr. Murdoch ridicules Fox News and is embarrassed of Roger Ailes. Mr. Murdoch got a copy of Mr. Wolff’s book, The Man Who Owns The News—which comes out in six weeks—through a well-placed pal in Europe, and now he’s gone public in the pages of The New York Times with his objections.
Tim Arango, who reported the story, suggests that maybe Mr. Murdoch is just stomping his feet over this because he wants the people he accidentally insulted to take whatever Mr. Wolff has in his book that might hurt their feelings with a dose of skepticism. What Mr. Arango doesn’t get into, though, is what a gift this is for Mr. Wolff—not just because of the publicity the "controversy" will generate, but because it tells those people who thought this 100 percent authorized biography would be a total softball that, actually, Mr. Murdoch is rather unhappy with the book and that he even had to steal an advance copy in order to get a look at what’s in it.
In a brief phone interview with Media Mob just now, Mr. Wolff agreed that this dust-up would have that effect, but emphasized that he wouldn’t be worried about those skeptics even if it hadn’t happened.
"Just reading the book will assuage any of that bias," he said. "I have a great deal of interest in Murdoch, and I may even like the man at various levels. But this is a book that’s really about figuring out who this guy really is, and it’s a book that you should read and by the end say, ‘Oh, I know this guy. And I don’t know his version, I know the real guy.’ That’s what I tried to do, anyway."
As for what’s motivating Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Wolff said it was "just an internal political thing."
"I mean, you know, he’s suddenly a little embarrassed about what he may or may not—what he has said about Peter [Chernin] and about Roger, but is he really upset? I don’t think so."
The fact that there’s a quote in the Times story from News Corp. that basically they’re as pleased as punch with the book would seem to support that theory.
"I think," Mr. Wolff said, "that everyone’s running around saying, ‘Get the boss to back-pedal! We don’t want to fan the flames here! We don’t want the boss to go off half cock.’"