Ah, now that Michael Wolff has released his new biography on Rupert Murdoch, The Man Who Owns the News, it was just about time for him to babble some highly quotable comment and drum up some press for it: like, say, “MySpace users are [expletive] cretins.”
His friend, Jon Fine of BusinessWeek, took the author out to dinner and discussed a subject he doesn’t go into depth in his new book: MySpace.
Apparently, Mr. Murdoch and pals aren’t too happy with it.
MW: …I think it is–if you’re on MySpace now, you’re a [expletive] cretin. And you’re not only a [expletive] cretin, but you’re poor. Nobody who has beyond an 8th grade level of education is on MySpace. It is for backwards people.
JF: [unsuccessfully stifling laughter] I don’t mean to get all Murdoch’s-kids on you [an obscure reference to an earlier part of the conversation], but if you are in a band, you are on MySpace. You have to be on MySpace. That’s a powerful driver. And second of all– if I am to accept your reasoning, even though I don’t–as the success of [News Corp’s British tabloid] The Sun will tell you, there are lot of cretins out there and you can make a lot of money off cretins. By appealing to their essential–
MW: No! That is the difference. And that is one of the interesting points of Murdoch. He wants to make money off of what he rightly saw as a rising lower class. He came to this country and he sees, that’s just not really true. No one really identifies with being lower class [in the US]. As soon as it comes to you—‘I am lower class’–you run, and you have to rehabilitate all of your aspirational identifiers.
As Kara Swisher at AllThingsD points out, Mr. Wolff has been railing on the Internet for over a decade. She made an appearance on the Charlie Rose show with him in 1998, in which he called the Internet “craziness, it’s loco, it makes no sense,” and also makes a truly misguided prediction: “I think the myth of the Internet is that it is going to come into everybody’s home.” Good one, Mike!
MySpace C.E.O. Chris DeWolfe told Reuters that the social networking site “could’ve grown more than we have,” if it weren’t for the economic slump. Mr. Murdoch wants more subscription-based businesses online, but the traditional MySpace model of free, ad-based revenue will stay intact for now.