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Michael Wolff and Jeff Jarvis on Murdoch v. Google

We had a rousing — at times heated — discussion this morning on Rupert Murdoch’s threat to block news content from Google, and what it means about the whole future of news, with Michael Wolff, Jeff Jarvis, and Steven Brill.

Early in the hour, Tom asked Michael, who recently wrote a biography of Rupert Murdoch, for his inside take on what’s going through Murdoch’s mind:

MICHAEL WOLFF: I think he’s raging against the dying of the light, actually. I think he hooked himself, chained himself to the purchase of The Wall Street Journal, and that is his legacy, and therefore the newspaper itself is his legacy.

He’s fighting on any number of fronts right now. He’s fighting Wall Street, he’s fighting doubters in his company, in his family. He’s really out there, all alone. It’s interesting — just the other day, he sacked his long-time PR person, a guy by the name of Gary Ginsburg, who has often modulated Rupert’s worst instincts. I think that interview that he gave – I remember he gave that interview to his own employees –

TOM ASHBROOK: Right, Sky News Australia.

WOLFF: … was Rupert kind of coming unhinged, and Rupert unsupervised. I think it’s going to be a very, very interesting psycho-drama that plays out here.

Jeff added that the delusions aren’t only Murdoch’s:

JEFF JARVIS: Gary Ginsburg called me some time ago, when Rupert gave a famous speech to the society of newspaper editors. And Gary was the one who wrote it. Gary added the strategy to Rupert’s words from the outside, rather than Rupert himself. Rupert, again, doesn’t use the Internet.

But News Corp isn’t the only one making the mistake here. I think the mistake that Google has made in this – and I’m an admirer of Google, I wrote a book to that effect – but I think that Google thought that they could become friends with the newspaper industry. And the newspaper industry isn’t looking for friends. They’re looking for enemies they can blame for the problems that are actually their own from the last fifteen years of inaction in the face of this dying light. And so it’s impossible for Google to become friends with the newspaper industry.

The news industry, however, Google gives great value. And I think that Google can encourage this future of entrepreneurial journalism in incredible ways.

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