Be careful what you write about Rupert Murdoch or his various entities: not only will you inevitably suffer the full backlash from The New York Post or Fox News (as Michael Wolff found out last year, when his affair with Victoria Floethe was revealed in Page Six shortly after his book The Man Who Owns The News was released), but you’ll also have to contend with the litany of newspaper articles that crib the information from your book without giving you any credit (again Wolff, complaining that last Sunday’s profile of Fox New chief Roger Ailes in The New York Times was directly taken from his book).
Sarah Ellison is taking an obvious gamble with her new book, War at The Wall Street Journal: Inside the Struggle to Control an American Business Empire. Not only is the subject matter covering almost the exact same trajectory as Wolff’s book — the Bancroft family’s selling of The Wall Street Journal to Murdoch for $60-a-share — but, according to the David Carr review of the book on today’s Times Media Decoder blog, it’s a much more intimate portrait of the man than the “ethereal” presence we’re used to reading about.
Without having read it, it’s hard to say exactly how Ellison’s book will differ from The Man Who Owns The News, although it will focus mainly on the Bancroft deal, whereas Wolff’s book merely used it as a jumping off point to explain Murdoch as a whole. However, Carr points to an interesting item that will be of interest to media historians: Murdoch’s outrage over the Bancroft’s last-ditch effort to retain some control by trying to maintain the editorial independence of the Journal almost caused the deal not to go through at all.
Saving the day was News Corp.’s Gary Ginsberg, who drafted up a derisive rejection letter that was never sent to the Bancrofts, but allowed Murdoch a chance to vent his frustration over a family that, in his mind, “chose to put their own interest — and their own misguided conceptions of who we are and who they are — ahead of sanity and reality.”
Hopefully Ellison doesn’t have too many personal skeletons in the closet, lest they all start popping out as the book’s release date approaches. Either way, we want to read War at The Wall Street Journal.
Read More: War@WSJ: New Book Pulls Back Blankets on Murdochâ€™s Capture of The Journal –New York Times