Rupert Murdoch Is 'Off the Reservation'

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Media mogul Rupert Murdoch hasn't shied from dumping on digital competitors. In August, he vowed to hide The Wall Street Journal behind a pay wall in a blow to Google. In November, Murdoch's NewsCorp teamed up with Microsoft to confound Google's news detection algorithm. All this caused new media doyenne Arianna Huffington--whose site thrives on links to newspaper stories--to snap at Murdoch's "ridiculous notions" about online journalism.

On Thursday, Newser's founder Michael Wolff follows suit. "Rupert is off the reservation again," he announces. In a conference call with analysts and journalists on Tuesday, Wolff says the 78-year-old "gossiped" publicly about his own company, "ramble[d], even free-associate[d]." A sample: "Apple's iPad or any other digital format, would, according to the man who has never visited a website on his own, be toast, if they didn't make deals with media companies."

Though Wolff acknowledges digital media is Murdoch's "personal bête noire," he thinks things have gotten out of hand:

Most of the reports about the call painted a picture of the hard-charging Murdoch of yore—no matter that he seems like a curmudgeon whose temper is frying more and more.

But if, to the outside world, he remains Murdoch, the king, to those closer to him, those who have to execute on his increasingly narrow view of the world, and to those whose patrimony depends on his acuteness (ie, his ambitious four adult children, and his ambitious young wife) it is, more and more, exasperating and disconcerting—if not alarming.

Not content to insult Murdoch's mental faculties and his family, Wolff concludes grimly: "The end may not be near enough."

Whether Wolff is right or not, things have gotten a little funny in some attics of The Wall Street Journal. Check out this video they just ran about a hedge fund manager and his frog.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.