Rupert Murdoch's 'quiet retirement'

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Rupert Murdoch will be 84 years old at his next birthday next March, but the old curmudgeon shows no signs that he wants to stop working and enjoy a quiet retirement.

But then, I am the same, if only a year and a half younger than he is. I want to keep going, too.

So I do have some understanding of the guy I knew so intimately half a century ago. The younger Rupert was, even then, a classic case of narcissistic nepotism — a condition usually reserved for dictators and conquerers.

There was an ancient Gaelic word for Murdoch: Mur (the sea) and Doch (invaders). 

He was also good fun for a while when he needed you. But you knew the day would come when he didn’t need you. 

His best friends at school, university and at the gambling tables in the Riviera all learned that. To know him was to soon recognise he was someone who believed himself be well above the ordinary earthling. 

And Rupert was to prove it.

We are recognising today that the Islamic wars now raging in Syria, Iraq, Libya and their neighbouring countries have their origins in the earlier Iraq war, in which Rupert Murdoch was a secret but powerful influence.  

The Iraq invasion was the consequence of decisions made by John Howard, Tony Blair and George W. Bush. Having been fed information that turned out to be totally wrong, they nevertheless manipulated the United Nations to support an invasion and Murdoch was standing behind them. The misleading and untrue headlines that followed were the height of his whole career and his influence on politicians. 

The newspaper archives of those events still show that Rupert Murdoch was just as involved as the political leaders.

One could overlook many things that Rupert Murdoch did in his life, but the Iraq war will always haunt his reputation. No other newspaper proprietor in history can claim to have started a major war — except perhaps William Randolph Hearst.

In America, Rupert seems now to be seeking a kind of redemption.

Dishonoured in Britain for many reasons, including the nasty hacking business, at which he encouraged his staff to become expert peeping toms and nasty vilifiers of innocent celebrities, from royalty downwards.

There was something in his mentality that made him see everyone else as evil and only he totally blameless. 

His visits to the UK now are strictly in-and-out as quick as you can. Equally short visits to his homeland Australia encourages the same kind of skullduggery that is now the signature style of his crumbling newspaper empire.

In America, where he seems now to have settled, he is clearly trying to promote his identity, which has never been as great there as in Britain and Australia. He wants to be a major player in a country that is loaded with major players in every aspect of life. 

 A real estate agent in New York’s Central Park area is advertising high-rise apartments with a message:

‘You’ll be able to watch Rupert Murdoch in his shorts.’

There you go (Image via

The higher the tower, the more each multimillion dollar apartment is worth.

Rupert is busy now trying to build a greater recognition of his brilliance in a country that has never paid him much attention before. Billionaires and posturers are thick on the ground. Every day, he attends every function hoping to be the prime centre of attraction.

He is playing a double game in U.S. politics.

A fervent Republican for many years, he is still courting Democrat heroes — mainly Bill and Hillary Clinton, while hanging out with some of the more prominent members of his own party. Hillary has been coy about the presidency, but there is no doubt she is a significant possible replacement for Obama next year.

Rupert often appears alone at the various functions he attends, but always in  the background is a retinue of two armed bodyguards, a permanent doctor and nurse, some of his currently favoured employees and one of his sons.

Adding to his image are a series of modern playthings ‒ like the Amazon four-propeller drone he takes to one of the Californian beaches to learn how to fly it, happy to be photographed with it.

He has no plans to slow down any time soon. He will, no doubt, be continuing to formulate his plans for the world.

We can only wonder: does he have in store for Australia next?

You can follow distinguished journalist and former News Ltd executive Rodney E. Lever on Twitter @RodneyELever.

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