David Blackburn

From the archives: Rupert Murdoch edition

Rupert Murdoch showed a ruthless strain in his personality yesterday. Here are some anecdotes about the man from Craig Brown.

Diary, Craig Brown, The Spectator, 12 September 1987.

As TUC delegates bore on about Nye Bevan and the Tolpuddle Martyrs, journalists attempt to remain sane by exchanging fond memories of their own mythological figures, the newspaper proprietors. Robert Maxwell has just taken over from Beaverbrook as the most anthologised ogre, but for some reason there are precious few stories about Rupert Murdoch. He well be bad but he is obviously not bonkers, and both attributes are necessary for real popularity among journalists. Anecdotes about Murdoch’s wit are few and far between, but the following one might help boost his reputation. It also involves William Rees-Mogg, a similarly under-anecdotalised figure. Rees-Mogg has a favourite dinner-party gambit. ‘In my time,’ he likes to say, ‘I have met two Kings, three Queens and three Popes,’ (I forget the exact proportions) ‘and I have found none of them remarkable.’ Everyone is then expected to titter politely in admiration. A few years ago, Murdoch was at a dinner-party listening to Rees-Mogg reciting this familiar litany: ‘In my time I have met two Kings, three Queens and three Popes, and I have found none of them remarkable.’ ‘Maybe they thought you were a bit of prat too, William.’

Diary, Craig Brown, The Spectator, 19 September 1987

Last week I complained that there were very few anecdotes about Murdoch compared with the mountain of anecdotes about Maxwell. I have since been told a few, some of which are little more than the information that the teller of the tale was once in the same room as the great man.

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