Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and ‘A Devil’s Bargain’

By Chris Ariens Comment

Roger Ailes and James Murdoch, along with Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer (March 2010).

In the January issue of British GQ, Michael Wolff has a 2,300-word missive titled “Why I Love Fox News.” Don’t judge this story by its title, because it’s hard to glean what it is Wolff loves about Fox News.

The on-again, off-again editor and biographer of Rupert Murdoch, Wolff goes into detail about his on-again, off-again relationship with Fox News founder and CEO Roger Ailes.

Once, he offered to hire me as a Fox business-news commentator, if that’s what I wanted, but counselled that, if I worked for Fox News, I was never likely to be hired by the liberal outlets to which I was more naturally suited. And then we fell out. Or, in a sense, suddenly engaged in News Corp politics, I sold him out.

Wolff goes on to write about how his Murdoch biography, “The Man Who Owns The News,” was a turning point.

One of the reasons I was invited in 2007 – shortly after Murdoch’s takeover of the Wall Street Journal (an enterprise supported by the profits of Fox News) – to write a biography of the mogul with his full co-operation, was, in part, I came to understand, because I was a useful weapon in the increasing war against Ailes.

Wolff then admits he made what he calls “a devil’s bargain” not to talk to Ailes for the Murdoch book. That’s about the most revealing piece of new information. So, what’s Wolff’s motivation for this piece? A where-are-we-know update? An olive branch to Ailes? It’s hard to tell. But there are thoughts inside 1211 Avenue of the Americas that it has fingerprints of Matthew Freud, Murdoch’s son-in-law, who in early 2010, told the New York Times he was “ashamed and sickened” by Ailes’ “sustained disregard” of the journalistic standards of News Corp.

A News Corp. executive tells TVNewser, “Freud’s attacks on the Murdoch family appear to continue. His divisive actions speak for themselves.”