The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tabloid shake-up tickles feud gossip
Rupert Murdoch

Washington, Aug. 1: In his resignation as heir apparent to the biggest and most powerful media empire that the world has seen, Lachlan Murdoch has proved that, like politics, all news is local.

In New York, where News Corp is headquartered, the news on the street is not that the deputy chief operating officer of Rupert Murdoch’s media colossus has called it quits and is moving to Australia with his wife and son.

Instead, a headline in the New York tabloid Daily News screamed: “Post’s publisher calls it quits.”

Daily News and New York Post are fierce rivals for the Big Apple’s downmarket readership and the former’s story about the weekend shake-up in News Corp merely said: “Lachlan Murdoch, son of media baron Rupert Murdoch, is bailing out of the struggling New York Post amid talk of a family feud.

Wendi Deng

“Lachlan was to prove himself at the Post. Under his watch, the Post made a staggering journalistic blunder ' proclaiming that John Kerry had chosen Richard Gephardt as his running mate.

“The Post’s financial picture looks even worse: after five years with Lachlan at the helm, the paper continues to lose more than $30 million a year.' To boost circulation, the Post cut its news-stand price to 25 cents from 50 cents.”

In Lachlan’s resignation, the Big Apple, which is tickled by reality soap operas, has got the latest of its kind.

In the city’s clubs and bars frequented by regulars, what matters is not the future of the Murdoch family’s nine-billion dollar fortune or its power, but that Lachlan Murdoch sports tattoos on his upper arms to the discomfiture of his staid, conservative father.

And, of course, if you discuss the new turn of events in the Murdoch family at one of those clubs, someone will remind you that Lachlan’s wife, Sarah ’Hare, was once a model ' the “Wonderbra woman” ' posing in international ads for the brassiere.

During the weekend, Rupert Murdoch issued a statement hoping to set at rest speculation that Lachlan disputed his father’s desire to include children from his third marriage in his will.

“There is no dispute. All my children will be treated equally,” the statement said.

But gossip about the family feud will not go away.

Already, there are innuendos about Wendi Deng, Rupert Murdoch’s third wife, once a junior executive at Star TV in Hong Kong, and her influence in News Corp’s affairs.

Lachlan Murdoch

Such innuendos fit well with the present mood in America, where China is the looming enemy. Deng helped her husband identify potential investments in China and act as a liaison with Beijing.

Back in Australia, where the Murdochs come from, there will be a sense of deja vu about the events in the media empire founded in that country by Sir Keith Murdoch.

Many years ago, at Consolidated Press, another Australian media conglomerate founded by Sir Frank Packer, his son, Clyde, turned down a chance to take over from his father and moved to the US instead.

Sir Frank’s younger son, Kerry, then stepped in to eventually create a media colossus and become Australia’s richest man.

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