Who is the real Rupert Murdoch? CNN and The New York Times plan docu-series on Fox boss

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Former US President Donald Trump is embraced by Rupert Murdoch
Former US President Donald Trump is embraced by Rupert Murdoch
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  • CNN and the New York Times are collaborating on a multi-part documentary series about media mogul Rupert Murdoch
  • Murdoch is no stranger to scrutiny, having been the subject of many books and articles over the years, and the HBO TV drama "Succession" is believed to be loosely based on the Murdoch family.
  • CNN was the most-watched cable news network until Murdoch's Fox News took that crown 19 years ago



CNN and the New York Times are collaborating on a multi-part documentary series about Rupert Murdoch, according to people familiar with the matter, turning a lens on one of the most influential media executives of the past half-century.

Jonathan Mahler and Jim Rutenberg, who profiled the Murdoch media dynasty for the New York Times Magazine, are working on the effort, with the goal of releasing it in 2022, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the project hasn’t been announced yet. Their story, "Planet Fox," won an award for best feature from the Gerald Loeb Awards in the past year. 

Murdoch, 90, has been an irresistible subject for political reporters and members of the media for decades. His  family controls the most-watched cable-news network in the U.S. and some of the most-read newspapers around the world. He is no stranger to scrutiny, having been the subject of many books and articles over the years. The HBO TV drama "Succession" is believed to be loosely based on the Murdoch family.

But in this case, two of his biggest competitors have teamed up to tell his story. AT&T's CNN was the most-watched cable news network until Murdoch's Fox News took that crown 19 years ago, and CNN is still the go-to network during significant news events. One of its star reporters, Brian Stelter, published a book about Fox News last year. The Times, meanwhile, is one of the few newspapers with a larger footprint than the Journal, and its editorial page tilts left while the Journal’s goes right.

CNN and the Times discussed working together after the publication of "Planet Fox", an examination of how Murdoch has wielded his power and the discord within his family. His eldest son, Lachlan Murdoch, is now running most of the family's media holdings, while two of his children, James and Liz, have distanced themselves from the family business and its politics.

CNN Films is teaming up on the project with Left/Right, which also worked on the Times’s recent Britney Spears film and other shows for the newspaper. CNN’s documentaries on Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Apollo 11 will serve as models for the series.

The Times has scaled up its video operations in recent years, and the Spears documentary was a hit for the streaming service Hulu. 

Murdoch has had the ear of major politicians ever since he began building a media empire in his native Australia in the 1960s. He then expanded to the U.K. and U.S., where he has used his TV networks and newspapers to support political figures of his choosing. 

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