James Murdoch is the current odds-on favorite to become the No. 2 at News Corp. and replace daddy Rupert on the throne. The guy who's making that happen: image-maker and "best friend" Matthew Anderson.
Anderson, a San Franciscan who has been described as "a whirlwind of American bonhomie in a linen suit," is the younger Murdoch's chief flack for News Corp's European and Asian divisions, and right now his chief job is to burnish his boss' reputation and make him seem a fit replacement for the beloved Peter Chernin, who stepped down last month as News Corp. president.
And if he succeeds—a likely outcome given the apparent unwillingness of Murdoch's sister and chief rival, Elizabeth, to give up her successful TV production company—he will almost certainly cross the pond to become News Corp.'s chief flack. Gary Ginsberg, the current holder of that title—is a Chernin loyalist who was already in a rocky political position after bearing the brunt of the blame for Rupert's cooperation with Michael Wolff's feather-ruffling book.
Anderson and Murdoch met when Anderson was working in Asia for the global PR shop Ogilvy, handling the account of British cable firm BSkyB, which Murdoch then ran. According to the British PR trade journal Campaign, the two worked together for four years and fast became "best friends." In 2005, Murdoch convinced Anderson to jump ship after fifteen years at Ogilvy and work for BSkyB; when Murdoch moved into News Corp proper to run Europe and Asia, Anderson followed suit.
Anderson specializes in the sort of political maneuvering that Rupert loves. After he hired British political consultant Tim Allan to manage BSkyB's relationship with Parliament, a leaked 2006 leaked memo from Allan to Anderson revealed their plans to curry favors with legislators and reporters by hosting them at seminars and dinners, as well as the proposed construction of a database to keep track of all BSkyB's contacts with government officials. Should Murdoch prevail, Anderson's approach ought to translate well to the States.
Also, he is a former Nevada state tennis champ.
While there is some speculation that Murdoch isn't ready to formally take the reins as his daddy's deputy and News Corp may temporarily install a seat-warmer while he preps, it's clear that business reporters will likely be spending a lot of phone time with Anderson in the coming months.