Murdoch is endlessly fascinating to watch because his talents and brilliance are equaled only by his amorality. His enthrallment of media culture persists because he is so good at what he does. His rivals disgrace themselves by trying to emulate him, but his newspapers have more brio, more edge, more connective excitement than theirs do—and therefore more readers. His Fox News Channel is a shark-toothed star machine leaving its cable competitors in the dust. He takes big risks, makes big bets on big visions, then waits for the result like a poker player, prepared to stay at the table losing money until his bet pays off.
Imagine if that vision were allied to journalistic ethics. Murdoch would be a god. But the maggot-infested underside of News of the World is a metaphor for what his whole tabloid operation has wrought. He could have been Dumbledore crossed with Harry Potter. But he’s Voldemort, and he’s not vanquished yet.