When Rupert Murdoch Saved Boston Media

This is why he’s worth $20 billion.

Thank you, Rupert Murdoch, for saving this newspaper so many years ago.

He kept Boston a two-newspaper town, back in those long-gone days when newspapers actually mattered.

If you’re depressed about how everything has been going steadily downhill in Massachusetts for decades now, all I can tell you is that if the Boston Globe had been allowed to have a monopoly on public discourse since 1982, the situation would be even more dire.

Any city with two newspapers, no matter how bad, is better served than any city with one newspaper, no matter how good.

Rupert Murdoch “stepped aside” the other day from his role running Fox or News Corp. or whatever it’s called now. He’s 92.

He’s not what he used to be, and neither is his empire, full of careerists, time servers, clerks and Democrat party apparatchiks — just like every other dying remnant of what was once called mass media, come to think of it.

But thank goodness for what Rupert accomplished in his prime. He saved not only this newspaper but the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal. He started the Fox News Channel, now a spent force promoting RINOs and anybody-but-Trump, but once a force to be reckoned with.

I met Rupert Murdoch in late 1982 when he was in the process of buying the moribund Herald American. I’d just quit the paper and gone over to Ch. 7 because Hearst was about to kill the “feisty” tabloid.

When Murdoch decided to get involved, Ch. 7 put me on the Herald sale beat. He arrived in town and set up headquarters at the Long Wharf Marriott for his negotiations with the paper’s union. And the three TV reporters covering the story were brought up to meet him.

The Murdoch hand introduced me to Rupert by saying that until a few weeks earlier, I’d been the lead columnist for the Herald but had quit to go to work for the CBS affiliate in town.

“You made the right decision,” Murdoch told me.

He was correct. You always do what you gotta do. People who don’t understand Murdoch always make him out to be an obdurate right-winger. But that’s not right. He’s transactional. He does what he has to do, until something better comes along. And then he cashes out.

This is why he’s worth $20 billion.

The editor who convinced him to save the paper was Don Forst. As soon as Murdoch bought the paper, he sent Forst packing – nothing personal, just wanted his own guys in there. Murdoch brought in his own people, whom he would later fire (and then rehire) or use as scapegoats for one scandal or another (and then hand them huge buyouts).

It was the life we chose, working for Murdoch. Ultimately, it was never about politics, it was about what was good for Rupert Murdoch.

In the late 1980’s, as he began expanding into TV, Murdoch would fly into Boston just before Christmas and host a fancy dinner at a nice steakhouse for the top people at the Herald.

I remember one year he told us not to worry about all these stories that he was losing interest in print.

“The backbone of any media company is content,” he said. “And print people are the only ones who can produce the proper content. So this corporation will always be based in print.”

We believed him – up to a point, to use the expression Lord Copper’s minions would use to agree with, sort of, their media mogul boss’ disassembling in Evelyn Waugh’s classic Fleet Street novel, Scoop.

But I think Murdoch does still believe in print, up to a point He wildly overpaid for the Wall Street Journal. He took a huge bath on TV Guide (remember that?). He bought and sold and then bought back the New York Post.

For Boston, the important thing is that he used the Herald to keep the Globe from going even more totally off the rails. Remember, the Globe is a newspaper whose unofficial motto has always been, “Afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable.”

The comrades covered up for Ted Kennedy when he killed Mary Jo Kopechne. They employed – and in fact still do – columnists who brazenly make up stories.

The Globe ran porn photos on the metro front and claimed it was American soldiers raping Iraqi women – even after their own reporter told it was a fraud being promoted by a city councilor who would soon be sent to prison for bribery.

Sure it was fake, but the porn fit the Globe’s “fake but accurate” narrative. Afflict the afflicted….

One time a Globe photographer got pictures of a city of Boston work crew installing parking curbs at gangster Whitey Bulger’s package store in Southie.

Seems like a big story, right? Not to the Globe. As was later revealed in federal court, the Globe “journalists” instantly tipped off the crooked FBI, who tipped off Whitey. The damning photos never ran, and the curbs were removed to destroy the evidence.

The Globe did this because the serial killer’s brother was the most powerful Democrat politician in the state and they were Democrats too.

Professional courtesy.

All I can say is, as corrupt and lazy and just plain terrible as the Globe has been forever, think how much worse it would have been if it had been the only newspaper in Boston.

Rupert seen his opportunities and he took ‘em. He moved from Australia to the UK and then to the US. When print began fading away, he migrated to broadcast television. Then as the networks started to wobble, he made the move to cable television. And now cable television is going the way of all the others, and at age 92 Rupert calls it a career.

All I can say is thank you, Rupert. If it hadn’t been for you, I would have been out of the media in 1985. I’m not from New York and I don’t check any of the protected-class boxes. I didn’t have either the trust fund or the Social Register connections to make the cut, nor did I have any desire to bend my knee to the Beautiful People.

For me and my ilk in Boston, it was Murdoch or the highway. Of course, it’s odd now how he came up fighting the power wherever he went, and now at the end of his long life he is the power. From part of the solution to part of the problem. Just ask Tucker Carlson.

Rupert said Thursday he’s going to walk away from what’s left of his empire. Do I believe him? Up to a point.

(Order Howie’s new book, “Paper Boy: Read All About It,” at howiecarrshow.com or amazon.com.)

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