Publishing Mr Murdoch's heart

Published on Nov 23, 2006 12:44 AM IST

When the patron saint of hardball business decides to go all 'ethical', we can only wonder if Mother Teresa's spirit is behind all this.

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When the patron saint of hardball business decides to go all ‘ethical’ on us, we can only stare in astonishment and wonder if the spirit of Mother Teresa is behind all this. Rupert Murdoch, known for putting his money where his heart should have been, has pulled the plug on a book written by former American football star and murder accused O.J. Simpson. Simpson’s trial and his subsequent acquittal in the mid-Nineties caused outrage across the US. But as far as publishing a book written by someone who almost everyone believes to have been his wife’s killer, surely it would have been a bestseller. Wouldn’t you, despite your moral headshaking, buy a book by, say, a ‘tall, Sikh gentleman’, even if he is acquitted in the Jessica Lall case?

So, as far as money-making logic goes, the Simpson book and the accompanying TV spots on Murdoch’s network would have made perfect sense for the media mogul. But then, he has agreed with the American public that touching OJ Simpson was “an ill-considered project”. In other words, it was in bad taste. Mr Murdoch has been swayed by public opinion and [organ flourish] a sense of ethics.

But before we ask grandma to bake Mr Murdoch a pie for his change of heart — or, more correctly, for the introduction of a heart into his bizy body — shouldn’t we consider the possibility of him having reacted as a tough-as-nails businessman? The book’s publication could have led to a NewsCorp boycott from all sections of the American public (this isn’t about Iraq or Bush, after all). In other words, he may have turned a PR disaster into a positive gesture. Hmm, you can’t help but applaud the man who has seen utopia: where good ethics make good business, and bad ethics amount to bad debts.

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