i Editor's Letter: Murdoch, the Godfather


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The Independent Online


The doughty MP Tom Watson was criticised by many, including me, for his clumsy attempt to link the Murdoch family to the Mafia this week. But, upon reflection, this Godfather-phile thinks he had a point. Rupert Murdoch is of course Vito Corleone, as played by Marlon Brando in his later years, even down to the mumbly, growly voice. The Don has won his battles, and is Capo di tutti Capi.

Now he frets over the succession: are his children up to it? Lachlan Murdoch is Sonny Corleone, the son everyone likes, but who is a little wayward. One too many times he told people outside the family what he was thinking. Exile in Australia with your beautiful model wife is hardly being gunned down at the toll booths, but allow me a little licence?

James is Michael, who didn’t want to be involved in the family business. Michael chose the army, James the music business, but “just when he thought he was out, they pulled [him] back in”. Once in charge, Michael sets about his business with ruthless efficiency but so little joy, and at great cost. Then there's the feisty daughter Connie who rebels by marrying Carlo (or in Liz Murdoch’s case, two Carlos) who the Don will disapprove of, no matter how much he, Carlo (Matthew Freud), succeeds in ingratiating himself with the family.

There’s even an “ Alfredo” role for Prudence, the eldest Murdoch child, who doesn’t figure much in the business. Rebekah Brooks? She’s the consigliere, Tom, who isn’t “family”but is treated as such by the Don. When things turn nasty, Tom is sidelined by Michael for a “wartime consigliere”, and a great pay-off.

The similarities seem scary, but given reports that the Murdochs sought counselling to resolve the succession issue, perhaps they are more Soprano than Corleone. No matter, someone has to “act like a man”soon to keep the empire together.