If you're even remotely curious about oft-vilified media mogul Rupert Murdoch or his News Corporation empire, there are plenty of gems to pluck from Esquire's lengthy interview with the mogul. There is, for example, Murdoch's baldfaced assertion that Fox News Channel is "very, very fair;" his wild accusation that Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger tried to bar the hiring of white males for five years; and the mild rebuke that Fox host Bill O'Reilly "shouldn't be so sensitive" to Keith Olbermann's attacks. The biggest takeaway, though, is that Murdoch is softening in his old age, despite a punishing work regimen. The quotes in the Esquire piece reinforce the idea, floated by Michael Wolff in Vanity Fair earlier this month, of this change in Murdoch toward the "magnanimous" and "further nuanced:"
Somebody talked me into writing an autobiography about six or seven years ago. And I said I'd try. We talked into a tape recorder, and after a couple of months, I said, To hell with it. I was so depressed. It was like saying, "This is the end." I was more interested in what the hell was coming the next day or the next week.
...When I look back on it, I wish I had had more quality time with my children. I remember once taking the two boys on a three- or four-day hike around Aspen Mountain. I remember every minute of it, and they remember every minute of it. I should have done more of that sort of thing.
...My nephew just got back from China. He's been there for two years on a teaching program, teaching English to poor Chinese kids in agricultural areas in the southeast. And I said, "How poor are they? Are they really on only half a bowl of rice a day?" And he said yes. He said that perhaps on holidays or the Chinese New Year, they'll get a ration of meat. He said there are lots of areas like that.
You've got tens of millions of people like that. And then you've also got great economic expansion in these countries, which is causing a huge demand for energy and for food. When people come off the land and go work in a sweatshop and get ten dollars a day or something, the first thing they want is a bit of protein. And that's why, when you go to the supermarket, you're paying 30 percent more for milk or a burger or cheese than you were a year ago.
Rupert Murdoch implicitly criticizing China over human rights violations? Revealing emotional weakness? Admitting he consorts with, and emotionally bonds with, children? It's too much. Next thing you know Bill O'Reilly will be defending a Democratic presidential candidate from a right-wing smear campaign.