Book Review: ‘The Fall: The End of the Murdoch Empire’ by Michael Wolff

Media Machinations Unveiled: Michael Wolff's Insightful Take on the Murdoch Dynasty


Book Title: The Fall: The End of the Murdoch Empire
Author: Michael Wolff
Publisher: The Bridge Street Press
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 978-0349128818
Date Published: Sept. 26, 2023
Price: INR 287

The Fall: The End of the Murdoch Empire by Michael Wolff

Book Review

In Michael Wolff’s latest offering, “The Fall: The End of the Murdoch Empire,” the complex world of media mogul Rupert Murdoch takes center stage. Wolff, known for his bold ‘gonzo journalism’ style, presents a sympathetic portrayal of Murdoch, depicting him as a frail patriarch manipulated by his children. The narrative navigates through the intricacies of family dynamics, personal politics, and the challenges faced by Murdoch during the tumultuous era of the Donald Trump presidency.

While Wolff’s prose is not overtly gushing about Murdoch, the book leans towards being a homage to the nonagenarian tycoon rather than a critical exploration of the family’s major controversies. Issues such as Dominion voting problems and phone hacking scandals take a backseat, overshadowed by the portrayal of Murdoch as a confused and somewhat pathetic figure. The book’s timing, released just days after Murdoch stepped down from his role, fueled expectations of explosive revelations, but the real-life “Succession” story proved tepid, leaving many questions unanswered.

Wolff’s ‘gonzo journalism’ style, reminiscent of Hunter Thompson, offers an insider’s perspective into the Murdoch family and Fox News. The book delves into the characters, particularly Murdoch’s sons James and Lachlan, with deep sourcing and insider information. However, the writing’s repetitiveness and lack of concrete evidence to support character flaws weaken the impact. The narrative often tells rather than shows, leaving gaps in the story and missing opportunities for a more convincing exploration of the Murdoch family dynamics.

Despite these shortcomings, “The Fall: The End of the Murdoch Empire” provides valuable insights into the rise and fall of Fox News. The exploration of Murdoch’s influence and the network’s evolution, driven by viewer preferences, is well documented. The book touches on the impact of playing fast and loose with news and facts, resulting in repercussions such as the firing of star Tucker Carlson in the aftermath of the Dominion lawsuit settlement.

Wolff’s breezy, snarky prose style contributes to the book’s entertaining yet critical tone. The constant battles within the Murdoch family, the interplay between Fox News and Donald Trump, and the Roger Ailes factor create a ringside seat for readers to witness the behind-the-scenes turmoil. While some criticize Wolff’s reliance on controversial figures like Tucker Carlson, others see it as fair game to provide an authentic insider perspective.

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In conclusion, “The Fall: The End of the Murdoch Empire” is an interesting, albeit sordid, look behind the scenes at Fox News and the Murdoch Empire. Wolff’s engaging storytelling and access to key players make it a worthwhile read, shedding light on the inner workings of a media powerhouse and its profound impact on American democracy.

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