In a rather scathing indictment of the whole O.J. “If I Did It” affair, Salon’s Sidney Blumenthal doubts that Fox’s reversal on airing the project and publishing the book will have any impact on future sensational projects at the company. That’s because Rupert Murdoch has mastered the art of surviving these controversies just fine and still come out ahead. Blumenthal, a journalist and former senior adviser to President Clinton, specifically points to Murdoch’s ability to not only find which way the political winds are blowing, but to weather the storm.
“When the GOP took control of Congress in 1994 he not only founded a neoconservative magazine, the Weekly Standard, as a loss leader for influence, but also gave the new House speaker, Newt Gingrich, a $4.5 million advance for a book just as Congress was considering telecommunications legislation that would directly benefit Murdoch. In the furor after the book deal was disclosed, Gingrich felt compelled to return his advance. But Murdoch still got his benefit, which, in 1996, cleared the way for him to launch Fox News.”
Blumenthal also notes the spectacle of Fox News coming out against the O.J. doc.
“When Fox News talk-show host and self-described “traditionalist” Bill O’Reilly, warming up for his annual campaign against “the war on Christmas,” jumped into the fray, seizing upon the O.J. interview as a platform for publicity, the controversy reached a critical mass of hilarity. O’Reilly proclaimed the cancellation of the Simpson interview “a culture war victory,” and said, “News Corp. led by Rupert Murdoch did the right thing.” Murdoch might be gratified that O’Reilly’s bellowing promoted one Fox show, albeit at the expense of another. It’s the only consolation Murdoch gained from the incident.”