Stick a fork in Fox News (and News Corp profits). Recent articles in the New York Times and The Daily Beast show that Murdoch’s adult children, and his current wife Wendi, loathe the conservative bent of Fox News that is more profitable (estimated $700 million to $1 billion operating profit per year) than CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, and the news broadcasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC combined. Murdoch cannot live forever, and as soon as he passes, the Murdoch family will fire Roger Ailes and run Fox News (and its profits) into the ground. The WSJ too, will come under pressure to be a mere, “me-too” earnest, SWPL lifestyle rag, instead of a serious business newspaper with a conservative editorial page (mostly). Indeed in the Wall Street Journal, this process is already underway.
Why is this? Why does Richard Branson, owner of airline Virgin Atlantic, want a series of carbon targets/taxes? Why does the Murdoch family (or the New York Times controlling Sulzberger family) prefer political correctness over money? A lot of money? Terminal political correctness and “diversity” commitments have driven the NYT to near bankruptcy. You’d imagine that the Sulzberger family would do all it could to keep its money machine going.
The problem is, people with a lot of money, in their personal bank accounts, don’t respond well to classical economic rewards. If a person has already, $20, or $80 million dollars, in their bank account, what do they care if the multi-billion dollar business empire they run goes belly up? It won’t affect their personal consumption or status within their social group. Meanwhile, holding the politically incorrect, “normal” middle class opinions, is terminal to their social ambitions. James and Lachlan Murdoch, Elisabeth Freud, and Wendi Deng Murdoch all have considerable social ambitions, as does Richard Branson. They won’t be invited to the right parties, be fawned over by the “correct” people, will in fact be considered (horrors) “middle class” and there is nothing that rich people hate more than being considered middle class.
This is the same impulse that leads Hollywood to sign “Free Roman Polanski” petitions and dismiss rape of a 13-year-old girl as “judgmental.”
The parallels between decadent 18th Century French aristocracy and the peasant and bourgeoisie morality could not be more striking, than the attitudes of the Murdoch family, or Richard Branson.
News Corporation, long term, is finished. Lacking any ability to generate viewers, the Murdoch family (no one is immortal) will turn Fox News into a clone, harder left at that, of MSNBC with a fraction of the latter’s tiny amount of viewers. The Wall Street Journal will become a SWPL parody, with no business news at all. Fox Broadcasting will turn into an earnest, PBS-style purveyor of PC moralizing with maybe the viewership of half of PBS.
Unlike the NYT, News Corp is even more highly leveraged, and so the Murdoch family will run it into bankruptcy and sale for assets fairly quickly. About three to five years, would be my guess. Enormous debt levels allowed Murdoch to make expensive acquisitions (such as the WSJ, which News Corp recently wrote down about $1.7 of the book value of the purchase), without diluting equity control, making shareholders very, very rich as the cash comes in. The high level of debt, however, requires the cash coming in, constantly. No one in the Murdoch family besides Rupert seems to understand this financial reality.
Of course this means more influence for conservative blogs and websites, when News Corp flips Fox News to MSNBC-lite, with anchors Markos Moulitsas and Maureen Dowd. Andrew Breitbart’s investments in his websites looks more and more prescient. Eventually all of TV and print will be nothing more than a female/gay, SWPL ghetto. Which is not much of a sustainable business model, particularly in a depression, but there it is. Most rich people would rather be thought Politically Correct by their social circle than keep their business empire going.