Rupert Murdoch has grown so desperate in his attempt to buy Dow Jones and its Wall Street Journal that he'll tell any lie he thinks will help.
Murdoch pillories the truth on Page One of today's Financial Times. "Murdoch denies Beijing kowtow as Dow Jones rhetoric hots up" gives the News Corp. mogul a forum to rebut allegations that he would be a poor steward for the Dow Jones-owned Wall Street Journal because of his history of licking Chinese boots.
Anti-Murdoch critics always cite his 1994 decision to pull BBC News from his Star TV satellite channel in China. They say the move was designed to placate the Chinese, who disliked the BBC's critical news and documentary broadcasts.
Murdoch maintains in today's Financial Times that ditching the BBC was just a business decision, saying:
Star was losing $100m per year; we had to pay $10m per year to the BBC. I said "Let them pay it themselves", and they did. We also cancelled two other third-party channels—MTV and Prime Sports. At that stage we never ever had any request from anybody in China. Indeed, there was no discourse at all.
But that wasn't Murdoch's position 13 years ago. A few months after the channel was axed and after much hemming and hawing by his company, Murdoch finally confessed in an interview with his biographer, journalist William Shawcross. The June 14, 1994, Financial Times cited the interview in an article titled "Murdoch cut BBC to please China." Its lede reads:
Mr Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation, has finally admitted that he kicked BBC World Service Television off his Star TV system in Asia to please the Chinese government and help establish the satellite service there.
Murdoch defended pulling the BBC plug, telling Shawcross that the Chinese leaders "hate the BBC." Speaking of his critics, Murdoch continued, "They say it's a cowardly way, but we said in order to get in there and get accepted, we'll cut the BBC out."
Murdoch critics also love to bash the rotten old bastard for spiking a book by Chris Patten, Britain's last governor of Hong Kong. Here's the story: In 1997, the U.K. division of Murdoch's HarperCollins publishing house gave Patten a reported $200,000 advance for a book about the region. Then in February 1998, when East and West was in hand, HarperCollins dropped it.
In today's Financial Times, Murdoch asserts: