Monday Hash: Poor, poor, pitiful Rupert Murdoch and Bob Novak's spelling problem.

Media criticism.
Aug. 13 2007 4:54 PM

Poor, Poor, Pitiful Rupert Murdoch

Plus: Bob Novak's spelling problem.

Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty.

Nothing elicits greater laughter than the tears of a fiend.

Listen to the victorious Rupert Murdoch weep over the way the world has been treating him: During a conference call last week about News Corp.'s fourth-quarter results, he complained of having to endure "criticism that is normally leveled at some sort of genocidal tyrant" since making his bid for Dow Jones & Co.

Advertisement

While it may be true that the press autopsied every media corpse within Murdoch's vicinity in a quest to identify somebody he killed or ordered killed, nothing I've read in the coverage published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, or elsewhere has come close to accusing him of mass murder or ethnic cleansing.

Not even the dozen Murdoch pieces I've written since the announcement of the Dow Jones offer compare Murdoch to Pol Pot, Hitler, or Mao. I have cataloged his various crimes against journalism and called him a "rotten old bastard" a number of times, but that term of endearment couldn't have possibly penetrated his coarse hide. Or did my offhand comment that any comparison of Murdoch to Stalin was unfair to Stalin upset him?

"We're very proud of what we do at all of our papers," Murdoch told Time in June. "And we just feel insulted by the coverage," he added, dropping his trousers to show off his bruises and welts. If by all of his papers Murdoch includes his British tabloids (News of the World and the Sun), his Australian tabs, and the yellow-tinged New York Post, then proud might not be the precise word he's looking for. Maybe he typed discomfited, soiled, or disgraced into his electronic thesaurus and mistakenly clicked the antonym when speaking to Time.

Whatever the origin of Murdoch's wounds, genocidal tyrant fits him nicely. Plus, it may reveal what could be the mogul's self-image and career aspirations. As controlling stockholder in News Corp., he is the company's tyrant, is he not? And while he hasn't killed many, he's still a youthful 76—he's still got time to slaughter enough people to deserve the adjective genocidal. So, with this column I retire Murdoch's "rotten old bastard" label and hence forth shall call him a genocidal tyrant.

Katharine with an "a," please. Many journalists have misspelled the first name of the late Katharine Graham. I once made the error in an article, and a Nexis search shows that her own newspaper, Washington Post, has spelled her first name "Katherine" at least a couple dozen times in the past 30 years. In 1986, the Post goofed so badly that it published an "Outlook" section piece under the byline "Katherine Graham."

Columnist Robert D. Novak, who should really know better, joins the Katharine misspellers in his new memoir, The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington. He renders her name "Katherine" at least seven times in the book, including the index, and I don't think he gets it right once. I trust that Novak, who has contributed a syndicated column to the Post since 1963 and knew Graham personally and professionally, will get her name right in the Prince's paperback edition.

******

In her memoir, Personal History, Katharine Graham writes that her mother named her after artist Katharine Rhoades. Send your best misspellings of "Jack Shafer" to slate.pressbox@gmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum, in a future article, or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

TODAY IN SLATE

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

Moneybox

How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.

Music

A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
  Arts
Music
Sept. 14 2014 11:44 PM A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now … The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?