The wedding of News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch to Jerry Hall attracted widespread coverage across the national press and by broadcasters.
While reports were mostly respectful, the Daily Mirror could not help making the obvious joke and The Independent included a quote likening Murdoch to Dracula. Meanwhile The Guardian’s Michael White today suggested that if there is ever any “trouble at sea” for the pair in future Hall should “push him over the side” and “enjoy a well-earned pension”.
The pair had a civil wedding ceremony in London on Friday before a religious service at St Bride’s on Fleet Street (the journalists’ church, mistakenly referred to in Guardian coverage as a cathedral).
The Times and Sunday Times contained straight up news reports including front-page page photos (prompting the below wry observation from the FT’s Henry Mance on Twitter).
The Mail on Sunday, who’s writer at large Tim Walker first broke news of the romance, reported: “Fleet Street has spun a tall tale in its time, but even its most fanciful practitioners could not have dreamt up this union.”
Reporter Ian Gallagher added: “Yet the couple’s delight was undeniably genuine. So too was the goodwill from their eclectic guests, including MPs Michael Gove and Priti Patel, artist Tracey Emin, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, singer Bob Geldof and actor Michael Caine.”
He also had a line from son Lachlan’s best man’s quoting Winston Churchill who once said: “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.” Lachlan then reportedly added: “Dad, you pulled off a ******* miracle.”
The Guardian carried video reports, galleries and copious online updates covering both ceremonies on Friday and Saturday. But it adopted a more critical line today with a comment piece from Michael White
reminding us of the last time Murdoch dominated news headlines to this extent.
He said: “Even on a special day it should not be forgotten that, as the phone-hacking unfolded, Murdoch closed the News of the World, pillar of old Fleet Street, to save his bid for new-fangled BSkyB. The manoeuvre failed (so far), but he did manage to stave off a much more serious US investigation under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which might have threatened the Murdoch Death Star in New York.
“The price required was selling out his journalists and their sources, paid and unpaid. Working with the fancy City law firm of Linklaters, an in-house committee grandly titled the management and standards committee belatedly handed over emails and other records to the belatedly interested Metropolitan police.”
He quotes a senior Murdoch executive who once apparently said: “You have to understand, if there was only one place in the lifeboat, Rupert would take it. But he’d weep as he said goodbye to you.”
And concludes: “So if there’s any trouble at sea, Jerry, you just push him over the side and hold his head down. He was born rich and he’s 84. You’re much tougher – and you deserve to enjoy a well-earned pension.”
The Daily Mirror also carried extensive online coverage of the Murdoch nuptials and made reference to the 25-year age gap between the happy couple in its editorial on Saturday: “This week’s Mrs Merton question: What does Jerry Hall, ex supermodel and face of an erectile dysfunction campaign, see in grumpy, geriatric, multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch?”
The Sun had so far ignored the Murdoch/Hall romance but ran a report on page nine on Sunday and noted that the pair had been presented with a special edition of the paper.
Sun photographer Arthur Edwards was apparently drafted in as an official photographer to take pictures inside the church. He said: “It was a lovely service with a lot of emotion.”
The Daily Mail reported that Hall’s ex, Mick Jagger, is “staggered and horrified” by the match.
It reported on Saturday: “Lest we have forgotten, it was Murdoch’s tabloid newspaper, the Sun, which broke the news that Mick had fathered a baby by a Brazilian lingerie model, Luciana Morad.
“It was that affair, of course, that ended his marriage to Jerry, now 59, cost him £10 million in a legal settlement, and led to him being kicked out of the family home in Richmond.
“What’s more, Murdoch is wealthier and better connected than Mick, which comes as quite a blow to the legendary Jagger vanity.”
The most scathing coverage came from The Independent which noted in its report that Murdoch’s return to Fleet Street came 30 years after he sacked 6,000 striking print workers, fired scores of journalists, relocated his print empire behind a barbed-wire fortress at Wapping in east London and sparked Britain’s dirtiest industrial relations conflict”.
It quotes left wing former Labour MP Dave Nellist who said: “Rupert Murdoch has some nerve getting married in St Bride’s, given his pivotal role, particularly in the 1980s, in destroying journalism. It’s like Dracula getting married in a blood bank.”
But it also noted that others regard Murdoch as the “saviour” of the British newspaper industry by ending the “Spanish practices” which were keeping out cost-saving computer technology.