Dysfunctional Family Business

James Murdoch

I once worked for a successful company headed by its mercurial founder just when the enterprise increasingly became an instrument of personal vendettas, rather than a business, as the owner aged, ungracefully.  The heirs were either deemed unworthy or estranged; so an endless string of managers, chosen not generally for their inherent brilliance but their sycophancy, trooped through, unable to contribute anything as they did.   It was a classic dysfunctional family writ large, into which all but the short-timers had settled completely, meekly accepting their roles as serfs to their master.

At first I was shocked a how such an arrangement played out in real time; the line between rising star and disgraced enemy was frighteningly thin, so few would speak up when a bad decision was being made.  More disturbingly, all authority, however nominal, could be usurped at any moment by orders from on high, and that particular person on high never tired of pointing out to the unruly that “no one is indispensable.”    You can imagine how much independent initiative and team spirit that created.  Later, I was appalled when a prodigal heir with no experience running the company was abruptly brought in to “save” the place from its current (and soon to be fatal) difficulties.  I left.

But this was a family-owned local business, responsible only to its heirs; it wasn’t a global media empire with near monopolies in every English-speaking country and interests in the rest.  My boss may have been vengeful and a poor judge of character at times, but thankfully played no role in choosing world leaders.  Bad business decisions made for personal reasons sometimes cost the company money and market share, but they didn’t lead to indictments, billions in shareholder losses, and celebrities going on TV to quite rightly denounce them.  If you want to have a dysfunctional family business for personal aggrandizement in your dotage, that’s fine, but it can only be so big, a lesson Rupert Murdoch is belatedly learning.

Clearly ol’ Rupert has made every mistake in the boss-from-hell book: rewarding ass-kissers while stomping on truth-tellers, creating an environment of free-floating mistrust and selfish careerism; encouraging false bravado by reflexively attacking all critics rather than answering them; and last and most fatally, dangling and pulling away the ladder of succession so capriciously that real talent never rises while liars and charlatans are left to scheme for the reins.  In any other business, he would have failed long ago.

So now James is out, the formality of his leaving News International to work for Fox in New York already has raised sufficient guffaws that it cannot be taken seriously.  Rebekah Brooks, just weeks ago his “top priority,” is covered in bus tracks as well; suddenly Lachlan, once sidelined as insufficiently loyal, is being mentioned as heir to the throne.  Throne?  Why, in the name of God’s Free Market, are any of these people employed, much less aspiring to plant their callow, entitled asses in the big chair?  Due to Rupert’s incompetence and stupidity, he has lost one profitable tabloid, the chance at fully monopolizing British cable TV, and now he’s eyeing the runts of the litter to pick up the pieces and fight the lawsuits.

The place I used to work is now a popular brew pub, and at the rate Rupert’s going, someday people will be shooting pool and downing pints in Sean Hannity’s old studio, too.  Urban renewal, I’d call it.



  1. loretta says:

    I expect some major players to wind up in jail over this Murdoch scandal. I also think they very likely hacked US phones, and it’s only a matter of time before new NYorker Junior Murdoch will have to move to Australia. He’ll hate it there.

    In other news, I could not help but laugh at the sad, sad story about bank bonuses being so low this year that Masturbators of the Universe have to cut back on their summer vacations or (gasp) pull their spoiled kids out of expensive private schools. Hey, live in a 1999 Buick for a month and see how that feels, suckas.

    I laugh because I can’t imagine making $300 grand a year, having a fixed overhead of $200 grand and not being able to save any money in case you have a bad year. Seriously! Last year, I was fortunate enough to make more money every month than I needed to spend (and my overhead is pretty low) – I managed to pay off all my debt – every credit card that I used while unemployed in 2009/2010, pay cash for everything (including gasoline), and still save enough money to buy new furniture for my living room, and pay half down on a new-to-me car, and get a $15K car loan for the rest at 3%. And I still have money in the bank. So, I have a dinky little car payment of $250 a month, no other debt, and live in a 1700 sq ft house on Lake Erie, four bedroom, attached garage, quarter acre backyard half wooded, and pay a lawn service to do the grass. And I still spend less than $4K a month to live this way.

    I made less than 1/3 of what those guys make, and even when I was on unemployment (about $500 a WEEK), I still stayed in my house, my kids stayed in the schools (public, but good ones), and I just drove a lot less. Now, if I lost my job, I’d have even less debt than I had before and could probably live on half of what I make and not have to sacrifice much at all.

    Those fools in NY can bite me.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Oh, lil’ Jimmy isn’t going to Australia; he’s going to stay here where the legal system knows its place. Don’t count on any lifestyle changes, either. You can be awfully poor at $250K, just ask Fox News. As a matter of fact, we should all chip in to help Jimmy; he must be suffering so.

  2. loretta says:

    Speaking of losing your rich lifestyle, “Company Men” should be required viewing for all those Wall Street morons. Ben Affleck has to work a construction job, sell his Porche, take his kids out of private schools and – shock – everyone survives. Tommy Lee Jones has so much money already, he doesn’t even feel the strain when he gets fired. One of the firees doesn’t do so well, but the whole movie goes to show you how ridiculously overstretched these noveaux rich idiots live and how they can’t manage money; yet their jobs require them to manage other people’s money. Ironic.

  3. dirigo says:

    The Justice Department is looking into Fox News. There may already be some low hanging fruit within reach.


    • cocktailhag says:

      I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you. Good thing I love brew pubs.

    • michlib says:

      Normally, I’d be enthused to see these revelations. Then I look and see Eric (Place ) Holder “acting” as AGOTUS. The most useless, do-nothing, see-nothing since Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes. Sound and fury – check. Action ? Meh.

      • avelna says:

        Holder et al are probably on the payroll of News Corp. I wonder if News Corp. works in conjunction or is in competition with Stratfor…

  4. dirigo says:

    “A horse. A horse. My kingdom for a horse.”



    CHNN’s crack Eastern Desk has flooded New York City today to check on VIP horse-lending policies within the NYPD.

    No word yet on whether Fox News chief Roger Ailes has ever benefited from a law enforcement-sponsored equine lending program, similar to that enjoyed by Ms. Brooks. CHNN stringers have also fanned out to see if in fact Ailes is able to mount a horse on his own. There’s speculation he might require assistance from a rented construction crane; or, if such a rental is unavailable, a medieval block ‘n tackle unit. The latter are usually ready to go from Broadway theatrical equipment vendors.

    Calls are also out to the FBI on this matter.

    • michlib says:

      I’m worried more for the condition of the horse after enduring such duty.

      • dirigo says:

        In terms of stress on an animal, the image of Ailes majestically riding on an NYPD swayback in Central Park could be compared to that of the star of “War Horse” straining his guts out during the uphill, rain-splattered, gun carriage hauling scenes.

        There were no extra oats for the beast that night.

  5. dirigo says:

    Horse Update:

    British Prime Minister David Cameron now admits he rode a London police horse, at a time when the nag was under the care of former Murdoch exec Rebekah Brooks.

    Also, CHNN stringer Wally Ballou caught up with Roger Ailes late last night as he waddled stealthily out of a delivery door at the rear of Fox News world HQ in New York. Ailes said he’s never ridden a horse and isn’t about to start now.

    • cocktailhag says:

      How, exactly, does one waddle, stealthily? If anyone could do it, though, it would be Roger.

      • dirigo says:

        Rush may soon have to start waddling stealthily out of the freight elevator at EIB headquarters in the dead of night if he keeps losing accounts while the nation’s sluts gather en masse to block his way during regular business hours.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Back in my theater days, I went to a production of “Anything Goes,” and the guy who played Moonface Martin had the stealthy waddle just right, come to think of it.
          Now I’m envisioning Limbaugh/Ailes in a priest getup with a machine gun in a violin case, waddling stealthily.

          • dirigo says:

            A produced stealthy waddle requires lots of rehearsal, as you know. In real-life situations where, say, Rush or Rog might suddenly be confronted by protesters blocking a back alley egress, the move would have to be an improv – perhaps an unsteady, or somewhat uneven stealthy waddle, but a discernible waddle nonetheless.

            Anything goes.

          • cocktailhag says:

            Well, the actor, Ernie Casciato, was a professional. He could give stealthy waddling lessons to beleaguered, tubby propagandists to supplement, or even replace, his income as a drama teacher. I just checked Facebook, and he’s still around, so I friended him. You see, he was the first holder of my job at the very business we’ve been discussing and he might get a kick out of his post.

          • dirigo says:

            Judging by the cascade of bad news crashing over Rush’s head today, I’d say he may soon need all the help he can get. Even Scott Brown, the Bay State pin-up boy, is calling him out. Ernie might be interested in pitching a consult to Rushbo. Timing is all in show business.

            Rick may be learning that now incidentally.

          • cocktailhag says:

            I heard he already lost one of those mattress shysters, with more to come. And that bomb scare must have led to some stealthy waddling.

  6. dirigo says:

    Horse Update II:

    An aide to Cameron, attempting to clarify what may have occurred during the PM’s ride(s) on the police horse, denied any meetings took place while riding. The PM, said the aide, does not hold meetings while on a horse.