Rupert Murdoch can apologize (as he sort of did) about his "Jewish-owned press" tweet, but he still can't take it back. And because that tweet is out there, the big question now—after "Why is he still on there?" and "Wow, that's really offensive, right?"—is which press, exactly, he was referring to. Here's the tweet that Murdoch sent out on Saturday night:
Why Is Jewish owned press so consistently anti- Israel in every crisis?— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) November 18, 2012
After an avalanche of Twitter blowback, Murdoch soon faux-apologized...
",Jewish owned press" have been sternly criticised, suggesting link to Jewish reporters.Don't see this, but apologise unreservedly.— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) November 18, 2012
..."don't see this" being Murdochian for faux-apology.
As the initial round of shock wears off (The Daily Beast's Peter Beinart eloquently wrote about how stupid and offensive this tweet was), journalists and editors are now actually trying to make some kind of sense of which outlet or outlets Murdoch may have gotten all drunk-uncle-at-Thanksgiving over. So, with the help of journalists on the case, here's our best attempt at "Murdoch Whispering":
He Is Talking About The New York Times Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell put it succinctly:
FWIW Murdoch was probably referring to the NYT with that weird tweet.— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) November 18, 2012
And it was shared be Buzzfeed's Ben Smith:
Wolff also assumes, as I did, that Murdoch's Jewish-owned press meant the Times guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/…— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) November 19, 2012
The reason Smith, Hounshell, and The Guardian's Michael Wolff all think it's a Times-centered attack isn't just because of an anti-Semitic slam against the Sulzbergers (more on this in a tiny bit) but because of Murdoch's various "wars" and his rivalry with The New York Times. Back in 2010, as Vanity Fair pointed out, Murdoch was warring with executive editor Bill Keller, and he was seen tweeting dissing the well-liked Times's public editor, Margaret Sullivan, not too long ago:
Amusing fuss over NYT public editor.We see all two million daily subscribers as our very public editors.— Rupert Murdoch(@rupertmurdoch) November 8, 2012
So maybe this tweet was another pot shot, albeit with more anti-Semitic tone. But as Wolff points out, being Jewish-owned doesn't even apply to The Times anymore, which kinda makes it even more anti-Semitic if he was just going by the Sulzberger surname:
To describe the Times this way is both quizzical, and we can assume, pointed. Because, as it happens, the Times isn't, per se, "Jewish". True, the Sulzbergers, who control the company, were once a prominent Jewish family. But the Times' chairman and publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, is half-Jewish (on his father's side) and was raised as an Episcopalian. Murdoch knows this full well. So what he is saying is something more like "Jewish-tainted press", which, all in all, seems more, not less, antisemitic.
He Was Talking About CNN and the AP If you go to the New York Times report on the whole thing that might be referring to The Times, they point to CNN and the AP. "In an earlier message he had said, “CNN and AP bias to point of embarrassment," writes The Times's Amy Chozick.
He Was Channeling Wendi's Broken English and Trolling His 'Minders' "Curiously, Murdoch's wife Wendi often uses the word 'Jewish'in an atonal context – 'You Jewish, right? I know you Jewish!'– that makes Murdoch's minders jump. He may even become more retrograde to bedevil his minders." wrote Wolff. Based on a life experience which includes very blunt Asian relatives and a large extended family, there is a definite possibility that Wendi might not know how harsh "You Jewish, right?" comes off. It's hard to say the same for Rupert.
He Wasn't Talking About Mother Jones's Adam Weinstein:
*I* don't own any media. You laid me off in 2008. RT @rupertmurdoch: Why Is Jewish owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?— Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) November 18, 2012
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.