Enemies List: Rupert Murdoch

No one but the Devil knows every name on Rupert Murdoch's enemies list, and that's only because Satan takes dictation from Murdoch. Still, the News Corp. chairman has an impressive history of racking up nemeses on several continents. So far, he's either wrestled them to the carpet or held them at bay in one form or another. But even with regular infusions of industrial-strength nookie from a wife half his age, the man still has to watch the ramparts for skulking invaders. To that end, consider a short and by no means comprehensive list of Murdoch's opponents — past, present, future, or some combination thereof.

Ted Turner - Ah, Murdoch's first big American kill. One could lay the blame for CNN creator Turner's ultimate biz demise more properly at the feet of Time Warner, but Turner vs. Murdoch was too classic a matchup not to believe in. The conservative, rapacious Australian tabloid mogul versus his bizarro-world counterpart — an American redneck news hawk with liberal, philanthropic delusions of grandeur. These days, Turner can only seethe about Murdoch's lack of charity, when it's pretty certain that Turner would be more than willing to cross the street to kick him.

Dennis Potter - The grim reaper's touch has placed the caustic British TV dramatist beyond Murdoch's vengeful reach. That must be particularly galling, since in a 1994 interview shortly before his death, Potter famously noted that he had named his cancerous tumor after Murdoch.

John Malone - Perhaps the first serious challenge to the Murdoch family's dominance of News Corp. came via John Malone's Liberty Media. The American company had amassed a considerable though not yet controlling stake in News Corp., which Murdoch interpreted as a threat; Malone's complaints about Murdochian "empire building" at the expense of shareholder return also didn't help. The threat evaporated with a deal trading the News Corp. shares back as part of an $11 billion asset swap, including the transfer of a controlling interest in DirecTV over to Liberty. Malone and Murdoch are talking sweetly of each other and the deal now, but the Malones are probably off the Christmas card list for a year or two, at least.

Sir Richard Branson - After his NTL cable company lost its bid for commercial broadcaster ITV to Murdoch's British Sky Broadcasting, Branson called Murdoch a "threat to democracy" and agitated for a government breakup of News Corp. — or to put it in terms Murdoch would understand, a "regime change." Branson is yet another flavor of billionaire wackjob in his own right, and his knighthood can't make the famously establishment-hating Murdoch love him any more.

Silvio Berlusconi - Murdoch has been tangling with Italian media boss and former prime minister Berlusconi for quite some time, and the former's dogged persistence has brought growing penetration of Italian media. Add that to Berlusconi political downswing and his propensity to collapse on camera, and Ruperto looks buonissimo by comparison.

Kerry Stokes - A not-so-miniature Murdoch in the making, Stokes controls Australia's Seven Network, which has already tangled with News Corp. over a failed channel meant to compete with Murdoch's Ozzie properties. Stokes and Seven are on the rise now though, after opting into a AU$4 billion joint venture deal that frees up lots of cash for acquisitions and new launches.

George Michael - Called Murdoch "the devil" and a "media dictator." Michael claims Murdoch is out to get him, but the pop singer may launch a vicious retaliatory strike at any time.

Judith Regan - More on the shit list than the enemies list, due to the whole OJ book thing. But it's very easy to get promoted to enemy status, by way of something relatively innocuous, like say, a lawsuit. Developing.

[Photo: Getty]