Who says corporate Q1 2009 earnings calls can’t make for a riveting show? In an earnings call regarding News Corporation’s performance this past quarter, Rupert Murdoch went beyond the balance sheet, opening up to shareholders and reporters about the broken truce with MSNBC and the battle with the White House.
On the feud with MSNBC (Specifically, Olbermann):
“We did not start this abuse, which we thought went way beyond … It was personal and went way beyond — not on me but on others. Finally, we had to allow people to retaliate. The moment they stop, we’ll stop. We don’t believe in it, and we don’t think it’s good business.”
On the White House:
“”As for the tensions with the White House, I think they overplayed it. It’s probably been good for us in terms of ratings … We haven’t really had any continuing problem there at all. We cover them, and they have said publicly that we are absolutely fair in our reporting of the White House. They just don’t like one or two of our commentators, which we understand.”
On the “icing out” of FNC from interviews with “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg
“All our competitors…immediately went to the White House and complained and said, ‘This is not the way to treat anybody in the media.’”
Apart from spicing up what could be a dry bit of business procedure in more cautious hands, Murdoch’s outspokenness during earnings calls is smart media strategy: It allows him to get out of the trap of speaking to reporters who might be hostile or reporters who might be accused of being too sympathetic (odds are, many of whom are his employees) and to simply get his message out to the public.
Peter Kafka also has a great set of running notes on the earnings call over at AllThingsD.