Rupert Murdoch turns 81 years young on Sunday March 11, an accomplishment for any human being but a true milestone the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp., who's had a rough go lately.
His eightieth years was a hard one for Murdoch. As if entering his ninth decade weren't reason enough to remember his mortality, Rupert was forced to come to terms with widespread bad behavior in his company's News International division: hacking the phones of dead children, bribing police, handing out hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of hush money, and whatever else we have yet to hear about. And as if that weren't bad enough, the entire world has turned its back on Rupert's son James, heir apparent to the News Corp. dynasty. We've heard that the father and the son are no longer on speaking terms. It was James, after all, who decided to shut down News of the World, which had apparently been Rupert's favorite property, nine months ago
When the sun rises on March 11 (and the latest edition of the Sunday Sun hits newsstands in the U.K.), it will signal a new year and another chance for a fresh start for Murdoch. As someone who's seen a lot of years, the 81-year-old has been keeping track. "I have lived for 613,000 hours," Murdoch told Charlie Rose in 2001. He talked through what he'd done and arrived at a conclusion, excerpted by Harper's Magazine in May 2001: "So if I’m pretty healthy and have a normal life expectancy -- I'm a bit optimistic -- I've got about another 175,000 hours to go, of which maybe I can spend 75,000 productively at work. All right? Or 70,000, say. So I've just got to see that each one of those hours is well spent."
Well, that's hardly being optimistic. Only 175,000 hours? That's only 20 more years, meaning that Rupert's planning on dying at 90. We bet he's got another decade in him. After all, Rupert's mother, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, just turned 103, and she seems spry as ever. Furthermore, Rupert's still the young'un in the Worldwide Media Mogul Club. Si Newhouse of Condé Nast is already 84 and still working, though somewhat diminished per Forbes' Jeff Bercovici. Sumner Redstone, the head of National Amusements (the parent company of Viacom, CBS and others) is 88 and still at it thanks to his vitamins.. Kirk Kerkorian, the guy who owns half of Las Vegas, is an impressive 94 years old. Given his family history and obvious tenacity, we think Rupert should probably double the amount of time left ticking on his biological clock.
And in the meantime, Rupert should have his cake. Last year was a hell of a year, and with a new international investigation into News Corp.'s business practices sprouting up, 81 might not be a picnic.