Does Rupert Murdoch really "despise" Bill O'Reilly?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

That's the bullet point from Michael Wolff's new "star-struck" Murdoch bio, due in stores this week, and the "despises" claim is getting lots of media attention. But I couldn't help notice when reading the book passage in question, "despises" doesn't come from Murdoch, it comes from the author:

"It is not just Murdoch (and everybody else at News Corp.'s highest levels) who absolutely despises Bill O'Reilly, the bullying, mean-spirited, and hugely successful evening commentator," Wolff wrote, "but [Fox News chief executive] Roger Ailes himself who loathes him. Success, however, has cemented everyone to each other."

Murdoch absolutely despise O'Reilly? Ailes loathes the host? It seems if those kind of sensational chargers about a conservative media civil war are aired, than the words ought to come straight from the players involved, and not the writer who does it second-hand.

In another section of the book, Wolff tries to cement the deal about Murdoch's supposed hatred of O'Reilly [emphasis added]:

"The embarrassment can no longer be missed. [Murdoch] mumbles even more than usual when called on to justify it. He barely pretends to hide the way he feels about Bill O'Reilly."

This seems to border on biographer-as-mind-reader territory. Murdoch is asked about O'Reilly and because he "mumbles," the biographer concludes he's hiding is true feelings? I think if Murdoch really did such a bad job hiding his feelings than Wolf would have a direct quote from Murdoch about how much he dislikes Murdoch. But I haven't seen that yet. (It's possbile direct quotes from Murdoch re: O'Reilly are buried in the book. But none have been made public yet.)

Again, it's very possible that Murdoch doesn't like O'Reilly, and from a purely ideological point of view that would make me quite happy. But it's also very possible that Murdoch likes O'Reilly. The job of a journalist in this case is to confirm the facts, not speculate or fictionalize media relationships.

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