Murdoch yearns to buy New York Times: report

LOS ANGELES Wed Sep 3, 2008 1:43am EDT

Chairman and CEO of News Corp Rupert Murdoch listens to reporters' questions during a news conference in Mumbai August 4, 2008. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe

Chairman and CEO of News Corp Rupert Murdoch listens to reporters' questions during a news conference in Mumbai August 4, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Punit Paranjpe

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch yearns to buy the New York Times and toyed with acquiring a sizable minority stake in Bloomberg News, Vanity Fair's Michael Wolff reports in an October 2008 article.

The News Corp chairman and chief executive has bought the Wall Street Journal and loves to gossip about news and even report stories himself, Wolff reports. He also sees his own family facing the same kind of internal division as the Bancrofts, who eventually sold him the Journal.

How could he avoid that fate, Wolff asked. "Oh, simple, I can't. All I can do is delay it," Murdoch responded.

Wolff, who is writing a biography of the Australian-born media tycoon, reports that before sewing up the deal to buy the Journal, Murdoch "for an hour or so" decided that Merrill Lynch & Co Inc, heading for financial trouble, would be ready to sell its 20 percent stake in Bloomberg, and that he would buy it.

That deal never happened, but Murdoch did buy one of the best-known newspapers in the United States and now wants another -- the New York Times.

"It's obviously irresistible to him. I've watched him go through the numbers, plot out a merger with the Journal's backroom operations, and fantasize about the staff's quitting en masse as soon as he entered the sacred temple," Wolff wrote.

News Corp was not immediately available to comment on the article.

Wolff also tells of a meeting early this summer between Murdoch, the head of News Corp's Fox News TV channel, Roger Ailes, and Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama.

Obama questioned why he should even talk to Ailes because Fox had portrayed him as "suspicious, foreign, fearsome," and Ailes shot back that the news channel might not have treated Obama that way if the politician had appeared on the channel.

"A tentative truce, which may or may not have vast historical significance, was at that moment agreed upon," Wolff writes.

Wolff added that before the Democratic primary in New York, he asked Murdoch whom Wolff should vote for and Murdoch's answer was: "Obama -- he'll sell more papers."

The Vanity Fair story is available online at tinyurl.com/vanityfairmurdoch.

(Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by Braden Reddall)

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