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10 Questions for Rupert Murdoch

5 minute read
Richard Stengel

This past week Fox News celebrated its 10th anniversary on the air. To mark the occasion, Rupert Murdoch–the 75-year-old Fox News founder, News Corp. chairman and CEO and one of the last of the media titans–spoke to TIME managing editor Richard Stengel about bias in the news, what MySpace means to the future of his business, and his most trusted sources of daily information.

What was your original vision for Fox News?

To be an alternative to CNN–and to be competitive. I just felt you’ve got 100 million homes out there. There is certainly room for more than one news channel.

How much of your desire to launch a news channel was about presenting an ideological viewpoint that you felt was not reflected in the national media?

It was part of it. The good bulk of the press in this country was monolithic–liberal to varying degrees. And I’m not saying that that’s wrong. But the journalism schools and newspapers in this country are totally monopolistic. In the average city there’s one newspaper. And people like a choice of news.

How do you react to reports that Fox is the only news channel on in the White House?

I’m quite proud of it. It should be that way. I go around to Congress, and you go to Democrats who are 100% CNN. You go to Republicans, and they’re 100% Fox. And if you go to government departments, you’ll probably see Fox. If you go to the State Department, you only see CNN. Viewers seem much more biased than the channels.

Is there anything Fox has done in the past 10 years that in retrospect you thought was “unfair and unbalanced”?

Nothing I can think of. As someone who is reputed to be more conservative than I really am, I get annoyed sometimes that subjects are not put out properly, explained properly. But in short, no. [Fox News chief] Roger Ailes has been insistent on equal time for all sides.

Most consumers of news media these days aren’t within the demographic coveted by advertisers. Is there a future to what we’re all doing?

Absolutely. How many people are going to be satisfied with text messages on their telephones? How many are going to want to go to the Web to watch any number of sites? How many are still going to read an old-fashioned print newspaper like I do? I think there will be room for every part of the business. But people like a degree of editing. Somebody has to assemble it and say, Look, here it is, rather than just Google news where it’s all put there according to the number of hits that it took. You might miss a lot of very important things going on in the world.

Is MySpace–or at least the Internet–the future of News Corp.?

Maybe. We have content all the way from films to television shows through high-quality newspapers and everything else. What we’re seeing now is a whole lot more platforms. This makes it easier to access our content, which is good. What we have to try to do is be sure that we get paid for it one way or the other.

You gave a speech a while back in which you said that the digital age would spell the end of totalitarianism. Do you still believe that?

It varies country by country. I would say that people in the Islamic world are not seeing enough images of the West and how we live and have ambitions. In Iran, where people do have channels coming in from the outside, you can see the people under their religious gear wearing designer jeans. But the problem is in other places, with the jihadists and the Wahhabi sect of Muslims. Oil money is now spreading through Pakistan all the way down to Indonesia, Malaysia and Africa, helping establish madrasahs. They’re teaching and brainwashing kids at a very young age nothing but their version of the Koran, hand in hand with terrorism and martyrdom.

How do you consume news every day? What’s the first thing you read or watch or look at in the morning?

I read the New York Post whether at work or at breakfast. I will then look at the Wall Street Journal. Not much more than the front page and then the editorial page. Then the New York Times, about the same. That’s about it. I scan the business pages to see if there’s something in the New York Times that’s not in the Post or the Wall Street Journal.

You depend on newspapers?

Well, I’m 75 years old.

What do you still get out of them that you can’t get from other media?

If you pick up a good general newspaper, you read a lot of things you don’t expect to read, much of which are important and make life more interesting.

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