Rupert Murdoch is all over Twitter. (“My family are horrified that I’m on it,” he says.) But in agreeing to sit down for a broad interview with Fortune, one of the media industry’s most powerful moguls signals that he’s finally ready to return in a serious way to the public stage that he has largely abandoned as he grappled with his UK hacking scandals and a bitter divorce, as well as uncertainty about the prospects for his media empire — which he split into two companies last year — and his succession plans. You should check out the piece by senior editor-at-large Pattie Sellers. Here are a few of the highlights:
Succession: His sons James and Lachlan are first in line to take over although “I’m going to be here for a long time. And so will [Fox COO] Chase Carey and [News Corp CEO] Robert Thomson.” The effort to bring Lachlan back intensified after a private meeting with James at last year’s Allen & Co confab in Sun Valley. “We had two or three hours together. Lachlan was not not going to come back. It was a question of how we would work together.”
Daughter Liz Murdoch’s decision not to join the News Corp board: Rupert says he’d “rather not go into that.” A lot of close families “have good arguments. That doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.” And it’s “more than possible” that she’ll return to the family business.
Who’ll be the GOP’s 2016 presidential candidate: Murdoch says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is “my number one” calling him “a man of very fine character.” He also has “particular admiration” for Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “could recover” from inquiries into his possible role in manufactured traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. Murdoch agrees with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on “a great number of things” but disagrees on foreign policy “too strongly perhaps to vote for him.”
His view of Hillary Clinton: He left open the possibility of supporting her but “it would depend on the Republican candidate totally.” He adds that he “could live with Hillary as President. We have to live with who we get. We don’t have any choice.”
The political impact of Fox News: Murdoch says the view that the channel has promoted the Tea Party is “bullshit” and denies that Fox News helped to marginalize the Republican party. “I think it has absolutely saved it. It has certainly given voice and hope to people who didn’t like all that liberal championing thrown at them on CNN.”
Fox Sports 1: The pay TV channel will “lose a couple hundred million dollars for a year or two” as he hopes to make it “a major alternative to ESPN” — which he calls “an even bigger gold mine than Fox News.”
Making movies in China: Fox is “going to try again.” It’s been a problem, though, because “it has been impossible to get American directors to go there….they want to censor every line in every movie, and they can take a month giving you a decision on one line.”
What went wrong at MySpace: That was “one of our great screwups of all time.” The problem was that “no one knew anything about it” and if his execs “weren’t happy with the people running it, they should have gone and hired [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg or someone like him.” Zuckerberg wanted to combine his operation with MySpace and “I didn’t take him up on it. I think he’s done a brilliant job.”
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