Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
One to watch... Rupert Murdoch
Technically, the 81-year-old media mogul is always one to watch -- one should never pry one's eyes away from anyone with this much power.
But Murdoch, who controls a global media empire that includes the Fox Broadcasting Company, the Wall Street Journal and formerly, the now defunct British tabloid News Of The World, became especially compelling after reports surfaced that actor Katie Holmes had filed for divorce from superstar husband Tom Cruise.
Many Hollywood observers and ex-Scientology executives have speculated that the sudden split is Holmes's bid to keep the couple's daughter Suri away from the Church of Scientology. Ex-members and investigative journalists have long alleged the church uses techniques including forcible confinement, spying and other types of physical and emotional intimidation to keep members in line. (The church has denied all such reports.)
On Sunday, Murdoch himself weighed in. "Watch Katie Holmes and Scientology story develop. Something creepy, maybe even evil, about these people," he tweeted, and the brief missive shot quickly around the world.
While Murdoch's tweet found many supporters -- "Scientology might be the one institution creepier than (Murdoch's News Corporation), so knock yourself out on this one," one Twitter user replied -- it was not without its detractors.
"Since Scientology tweet hundreds of attacks," Murdoch reported hours after his first statement. "Expect they will increase and get worse and maybe threatening. Still stick to my story."
Scientology has long pursued litigation against high-profile detractors, media outlets and other organizations it has beefs with. But in Murdoch, recently named the 24th most powerful person in the world by Forbes Magazine, the church has an opponent unlikely to be intimidated by lawyers or, really, much of anything.
If Murdoch does indeed "stick to his story," and continues to air out his critiques of Scientology leadership, the resulting fireworks could push the Scientology debate into very public territory -- especially with the media resources at Murdoch's disposal.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 7, 2012 j2
(1 of 23 articles for this week)