This week, spat-happy Michael Wolff of Newser, last seen laying into a critic of the site's aggregation policies, single-mindedly set to work frying bigger fish. His targets: Rupert Murdoch and Steve Jobs. Though Murdoch perhaps draws less of Wolff's ire than the Apple CEO, he's been roughly equally featured in Wolff's columns this week. Here, the headlines and a summary of his columns, which have alternated between the two subjects.
- April 22: 'Will Murdoch Lose Britain?' Wolff chronicles Murdoch's shifting endorsements of political candidates in Britain. One key quote: "Murdoch likes winners, even more than he likes Conservatives."
- April 23: 'Is Steve Jobs Off His Meds?' Wolff says, based on Steve Jobs's plethora of recent e-mails, that the Apple head is "either having fun or going nuts." He looks at Jobs's disgruntlement over a cartoonist whose iPhone app was rejected winning a Pulitzer, as well as his agitation over the issue of porn on iPhones.
You might read Steve's emails as just a display of arrogance and dismissiveness born of owning the world--that is, fun. Or, it could be he's just cranky about having his new phone left in a bar (although, frankly, I figure, it's as likely to have been a nicely executed publicity stunt--it's Apple, come on) ... Or--and this would be in keeping with so much of the oddness surrounding Steve--he really does see himself as the measure of true righteousness.
- April 25: 'Murdoch Chronicles: Is Rupert Pissed at James?' The son is supposed to take over the media empire at some point, notes Wolff. "On James' timetable, that should be happening already." yet James's hyperpartisanship in the British election and other such stunts, writes Wolff, have lead some to describe him as "trying to out-Murdoch his father. That may be too much Murdoch even for Rupert."
- April 27: 'Creepy Steve Jobs May Not Want You to Read This (or Will Break Down Your Door)' Wolff goes to town on Apple's rejection of the app version of his column. He decides, based on the illogical nature of the refusal, that the real message is "don't diss Steve Jobs," and that his April 23 column is what did it.
What we have now, suddenly, is one of the most mercurial and paranoid and unusual men in American business--willing to swear out a warrant if you cross him--telling you what you can and cannot read.
- April 28: 'Grumpy Old Men: Redstone Slams Murdoch' The money quote in the column reviewing the spat between the two media moguls: "While it did look for a time that Redstone was the dottier one, Redstone may be right in pointing out that the Journal, and now the launch of its New York-centric pages, may mean it's Murdoch by a nose." Wolff's further thoughts on the New York enterprise: "The near-certainty of Rupert's grand failure is irresistible."
- April 29: 'Does Steve Jobs Really Hate the Press This Much?' Wolff is referring to the police search of the Gizmodo editor's house following Gizmodo's procurement of the new iPhone prototype.
Perhaps it is that experience--being able to lie about his health with no real legal or PR consequences--that has made him feel invulnerable to the public's reaction. Or, perhaps, it is the press attention to things like his health (as well as so much other press aggravation in the past) that has made him all the more aggressive toward us now.