The world's favorite phone hacker, Murdoch is the billionaire media mogul who controls a good chunk of what you watch or read every day: the New York Post, Twentieth Century Fox, HarperCollins, MySpace.com, and, of course, America's favorite Fair and Balanced™ news source, the Fox News Channel. He's married to Wendi Deng.
The son of Sir Keith Murdoch, a well-known Australian journalist and newspaper executive, Rupert entered the family business when his father died and left him a controlling stake in News Limited, which owned several Australian newspapers. Murdoch built up the chain, acquiring titles like the Daily Mirror and the Australian as well as several TV stations in his native country, before moving on to international expansion during the '60s with the acquisition of Brit papers the News of the World and The Sun. His editorial model in his early days wasn't that different from the one plied by the Post today: He focused on the tawdry and scandalous, a recipe that boosted circulation and lifted a number of his papers out of the red.
Determined to invade American shores, Murdoch made his first U.S. acquisition when he purchased the San Antonio Express and San Antonio News in 1973. A year later he launched lowbrow tabloid the National Star. In 1976, he hit New York City, purchasing the New York Post for $50 million from Dorothy Schiff and editing the paper himself for a year, and picking up New York and the Village Voice from Alan Patricof shortly thereafter. The '80s were all about television for Murdoch's burgeoning empire: In 1985, he became a U.S. citizen, at least partly so he could own American TV outlets, and he purchased half of Fox the same year for $250 million. He quickly turned Fox into a competitor to the Big Three, thanks, in the early days, to the programming efforts of Barry Diller. The '90s were marked by Murdoch's aspirations to dominate cable and satellite. In 1993, he picked up Asia's Star Television; in 1996, he unleashed Bill O'Reilly on the world with the launch of Fox News. He's since expanded with the Chris-Craft chain of TV stations ($5.3 billion), DirecTV ($6.3 billion), and, more recently, MySpace and Dow Jones.
Although Murdoch was a lefty in his younger years, his political views shifted to the right in the '70s, and he's since been closely associated with conservative political causes and candidates. For years, particularly following the launch of Fox News, he's been accused of using his media outlets to exercise political influence, winning him few friends in Democratic circles. But his motives abroad have been equally controversial. News Corp. has been accused of censoring its news outlets in China as part of Murdoch's effort to improve relationships with the country's all-powerful leadership; he was also accused of killing a memoir that HarperCollins planned to publish by Chris Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong and an unpopular figure with Beijing's political elite. However, these controversies pale in comparison to the allegations brought against News Corp. in 2011 that his newspaper outlets in Britain had been regularly hacking phones of celebrities as well as ordinary citizens. Claiming that he could not be responsible for the content that "1%" of his employees produced at News of the World, he and his son James plead ignorance to the British Parliament after it came to light that News of the World hacked the phone of an eleven year old girl who had been murdered.
Wendi Deng is Murdoch's third wife. Four decades his junior, she began an affair with Murdoch when he was still married to his third wife and she worked for News Corp. as an exec at StarTV. Murdoch and Deng married in 1999, shortly after Murdoch divorced his second wife, Anna Torv, to whom he was married for 31 years. His first marriage, to Patricia Booker, ended in 1967. [Image via Getty]