More than 220,000 users have signed up to follow Rupert Murdoch's tweets this year
In his evidence to Leveson Inquiry into journalistic ethics, he dismissed his posts jokingly
Among his obsessions, he reveals a love of nature and a hatred of windfarms
Murdoch has also turned against Conservative government, and lambasts Europe
Few could accuse Rupert Murdoch of losing his sense of perspective. Amid the threats posed to his global media business interests by the phone-hacking scandal, the media mogul retains an almost childlike fascination for the weather and nature.
And while the Australian-born Murdoch’s newspapers stand accused of illegal activities, and a general debasement of society’s moral values, the thoughts of the world’s 24th most powerful person often seem to be on family: his centenarian mother, his wife, the formidable Wendi Deng, six children and the perils of stray dogs.
We know all these endearing qualities, which shed light on a man who has never previously gone out of his way to humanize his uncompromising image, thanks to a Twitter feed that makes for compelling reading. “Lucky with six great kids and wonderful, busy wife,” he wrote in January for example.
Since December 31 of last year, more than 220,000 users have signed up to follow Murdoch’s tweets, the forthright style – and typing errors – of which indicate that all 232 of them were typed by the News Corp CEO himself, rather than a PR minion.
In his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into journalistic ethics on Wednesday, he dismissed the posts jokingly. “Don’t take the tweets too seriously,” he said. But what have we learned in the past four months about the octogenarian tycoon once famously described by CNN’s founder Ted Turner as “the most dangerous man in the world?”
1. He hates wind farms
Days before his much-anticipated appearance, he tweets: “English spring countryside as beautiful as ever if and when sun appears! About to be wrecked by uneconomic ugly bird killing windmills. Mad.”
He goes on: “They DO kill birds, by the thousand. No need for coal. Develop shale gas, much cleaner and cheaper and huge reserves.”
And despite his billions, sometimes it’s the small things that make Murdoch happy: “Miracles do happen! Sun shining in London.”
2) Murdoch loves movies – especially his own
and art, even modern stuff. “What a great thing David Hockney donating fabulous painting to the Tate. Truly beautiful and worth a fortune alone.”
“Saw Fox film Descendants. Thank God, one to be proud of. Star Geo Clooney deserves Oscar, maybe film too,” he wrote on New Year’s Eve.
The following day he is raving about another: “I LOVE the film “we bought a zoo”, a great family movie. Very proud of fox team who made this great film.”
And in April he writes: “Must see great biopic, The Lady, biopic of Aung San suu kyi, the famous Burmese activist.”
A fortnight later he moves on to another related subject close to his heart. “Piracy leader is Google who streams movies free, sells advts around them. No wonder pouring millions into lobbying.”
3) Despite his Aussie hard-man image, Murdoch is interested in social welfare projects
The subject continues to crop up: “@Zindiq of course not, but best hand up is great free education. Come to Harlem and see charter schools and sub-poverty kids shining.”
And warming to his theme of concern for the have-nots, he tweets: “Exceptalism or decline. That is the choice. Maybe too late but can we gather forces to return social cohesion? Close the divide.”
4) He’s turned against the UK Conservatives
Weeks later he is back onto more familiar territory: putting the boot into his enemies and rivals. Two years after backing the Conservatives in Britain, Murdoch now rails against the government that turned against him over phone-hacking.
He even seems to be flirting with the Labour opposition. “Britain strange. Month ago Cameron anti-business every chance, now equally pro-business. On the road to [opposition leader] Ed Milliband!”
And days after a scoop by one of his papers about a Conservative party adviser allegedly selling access to senior ministers, he twists the knife. “Great Sunday Times scoop. What was Cameron thinking? No-one, rightly or wrongly, will believe his story.”
His feelings of being an outsider – remarked on by many biographers over the years – are never far away. “Enemies many different agendas, but worst old toffs and right wingers who still want last century’s status quo with their monoplies.”
He responds with thinly veiled threats: “Seems every competitor and enemy piling on with lies and libels. So bad, easy to hit back hard, which preparing.”
The tweets prompt former Murdoch newspaper Andrew Neil to predict “Murdoch Snr will be in ‘slash and burn’ mood at #Leveson”
5) He’s not great at picking the Republican nominee
In Britain, Murdoch is renowned for his political acumen in consistently backing winners. But in the United States, Murdoch has failed to pick the winner of the race to be Republican presidential nominee.
On New Year’s Eve, he is backing Ron Paul. “Great oped inWSJ today on Ron Paul. Huge appeal of libertarian message.”
Days on he turns his attention to another candidate: “Can’t resist this tweet, but all Iowans think about Rick Santorum. Only candidate with genuine big vision for country.”
A few weeks later, he asks: “When will Romney get a manager to prepare him? Fancy not being ready for questions about taxes or felons! Damaging.”
A month later Gingrich is in favour: “Can’t blame Newt G too much. He was carpet bombed with negatives by Romney. Brilliant, visionary but just too much baggage! And erratic.”
But by April, as it appears that Mitt Romney has wrapped up the race, Murdoch is facing up to the inevitable. “No bias for Romney, but with friend Santorum out better be realistic. Hope he takes good vp.”
6) He really, really likes nature
Which ever country Murdoch happens to wake up in, his mood is always lifted by the weather: “NY Central Park never looked so beautiful.Full spring blooms everywhere. Enjoying walks. City Hall and volunteers should be congratulated.”
Days later he’s in London: “Miracles do happen! Sun shining in London.”
7) Champions America, down on Europe
A familiar theme for many readers of his newspapers is Europe. In his tweets Murdoch seems to revel in the problems facing the 27-nation bloc.
There seems to be in Murdoch’s view, only one man up to the fight. “What did I give? Years of argument against the euro.”
8) Despite all its woes, he still loves UK tabloid The Sun
Murdoch’s beloved Sun is never far from his thoughts – despite the arrests of several journalists over alleged illegal payments to police officers – especially if stories about it are untrue. Early in the year Murdoch dismisses reports that he is planning a Sunday edition of the tabloid. “F.T. Financial Times or Fawlty Towers? Sun on Sunday story today 100 per cent wrong.”
A month later, News International announces the launch of The Sun on Sunday. The news prompts almost boyish excitement from the boss. “London Sun. Great staff tired but excited for Sunday edition. Yougov poll shows 90pc awareness already. Big announcements start tomorrow.”
After the launch, Murdoch boasts about sales figures: “Amazing! The Sun confirmed sale of 3.260,000 copies yesterday. Thanks all readers and advertisers. Sorry if sold out - more next time.”
9) He’s picky on who he follows
Murdoch may have nearly a quarter of a million Twitter users regularly reading his posts, but he is only following 21 feeds. “Achtung Angela! I’m now following you on@WSJDeutschland. Check it out at www./wsj.de. Best German website.”
The list of those he is following is an eclectic mix, ranging from The Sun, The Times, Wall Street Journal and New York Post newspapers to actors Steve Martin and Jim Carrey. Innovators such as Bill Gates and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey also feature, along with CNN’s own Mohammed Jamjoom.
It is unclear whom he is referring to when he rails against profanities on Twitter: “Please keep tweeting. I read all but how about cleaning up language? Incidentally most credit me with non- existent power and money.”
And he strikes a humble note about his own abilities: “Re complaints about my spelling! Problem is my pathetic typing. Sorry, if anyone really cares.”
10) He’s a real family man
At the end of a hard day, Murdoch is just a dad to his six children by his three wives. On New Year’s Eve, he gives us this extraordinary vision: “Great time in sea with young daughters, uboating.” He fails to elaborate on what this involves.
Days into the new year, like many a weary parent, his children are pressing him to get a pet. “Just visited ASPCA. Young daughters looking for another dog to adopt! Help!”
Two weeks later, after a business meeting, he is eager to return to the nest. “In Zurich with the big chiefs of soccer. Amazing organization with power over most of the world’s football. Now back to family and work.”
And perhaps in a statement to those who imagine the 81-year-old might be be considering retirement, Murdoch reminds them his centenarian mother is still going strong. “Thanks to all who sent congrats on mother’s 103 rd bray. Long way to go,I hope!”