Rupert Murdoch Calls Steve Jobs Biography “Unfair”

80 year-old media baron Rupert Murdoch has taken to Twitter, and one of the first things he tweeted was about the late Steve Jobs. On New Year’s Eve, Mr. Murdoch tweeted, “Steve Jobs biog interesting but unfair. Family must hate.”

News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch

News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch

Mr. Murdoch is the chairman and CEO of News Corp, a media company with holdings all over the world. In the U.S., News Corp is best known for Fox News, the Fox network, and The Wall Street Journal, but the company is also prominent in newspapers and TV in Australia and the UK.

He was also one of the early media tycoons to embrace the iPad as a publishing platform, and he invested significant resources into the The Daily, the first major designed-and-produced-for-tablets (first on iPad) daily newspapers. Before that, The Wall Street Journal was among the first mainstream newspapers to offer iPad apps.

It’s no surprise, then, that Mr. Murdoch has several appearances in Walter Isaacson’s popular biography titled simply Steve Jobs (iBooks version). Chapter 38 of the biography references Mr. Murdoch repeatedly.

For instance, a meeting between Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch, and his son James Murdoch was described. The three were talking about the future of journalism, and Mr. Jobs later said in reference to that meeting that, “I would love to help quality journalism. We can’t depend on bloggers for our news. We need real reporting and editorial oversight more than ever. So I’d love to find a way to help people create digital products here they actually can make money.”

Other mentions include the rare incident of Mr. Murdoch giving in to someone else in reference to his decision to accept Apple’s terms of owning subscriber information for iPad newspaper subscriptions.

“We would prefer to own the subscribers, and we pushed for that,” Mr. Murdoch was quoted as saying. “But Steve wouldn’t do a deal on those terms, so I said, ‘Okay, let’s get on with it.’ We didn’t see any reason to mess around. He wasn’t going to bend—and I wouldn’t have bent if I were in his position—so I just said yes.”

Mr. Jobs also told his biographer that he told Rupert Murdoch that he as “blowing it” it with Fox News, and that he had allied himself with the powers of “destruction.” He went on to say that he didn’t feel like Mr. Murdoch liked the direction his own network had taken, basing the opinion on a gut feeling. Mr. Murdoch has since dismissed the criticism.

Unfortunately, we don’t know what specifically Mr. Murdoch thought was unfair. He could have been talking about the book as a whole, Walter Isaacson’s treatment of Steve Jobs, his characterization of Mr. Murdoch, or his comments about Fox News. Based on the mention of Mr. Jobs’s family hating it, the most likely intent was about the book’s treatment of Mr. Jobs as a whole.

Mr. Murdoch began tweeting on December 31st, 2011, and he noted right from that those around him were tense about the outspoken executive’s penchant for speaking his mind. On January 1st, he tweeted, “I’m getting killed for fooling around here and friends frightened what I may really say!”

True to form, one of his tweets questioned the work ethic of the British, though said tweet was deleted. With more than 95,000 followers, that particular tweet was quickly noticed and passed around before it was nixed.

Other tweets from Mr. Murdoch include a couple of statements of support for noted anti-gay politician Rick Santorum, support for noted libertarian Ron Paul (that tweet included a plug for The Wall Street Journal, too) and both praise and advice for a politician on the other side of the metaphorical aisle, U.S. President Barack Obama.

He has also pimped We Bought a Zoo and Descendants, two movies that were produced by Fox studios.