News Corp's Internet Wunderkind May Be on the OutsS

Former AOL CEO Jon Miller hasn't officially joined News Corp. yet, but we hear that Jeremy Philips, the 36-year-old executive vice president in charge of Internet strategy, is panicked at the prospect of his hire.

Philips is a panicky sort, counseling friends last fall to "buy food and guns" — a bit of mordant meltdown humor reflective of his personality.

But with Miller's arrival, Philips's wit is the proverbial knife at a gunfight. He's no match for Miller, a former lieutenant of Barry Diller at IAC before he joined Time Warner to run AOL from 2002 to 2006, in playing corporate politics and catering to a mogul's whims. And Miller surely does not want a rival with Murdoch's ear.

We'd heard that Philips might take a lesser job running some of News Corp's lesser-known Web properties. But that would mean an exile from News Corp. headquarters — an unattractive prospect for an executive who has earned his keep mostly by keeping Murdoch's favor.

The wunderkind is not just rolling over and playing dead. He may be trying to spin the situation, with a friend saying that Miller's expected to have the same portfolio as Peter Levinsohn, the executive Miller would replace. That's not, as has been reported, the broader role overseeing digital strategy Miller's expected to take.