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  • Summary

  • Murdoch is an innovator who has re-shaped a media industry across continents, from Australia to the UK to the US. He is a disruptor who has changed the nature of our politics with a steadfast focus on giving the people what he believes they want. But to what extent has Murdoch shaped our modern world? Has he created new audiences, or given existing, under-served audiences a voice? And what motivates the media mogul? Money or power?

    Broadcaster David Dimbleby, one of the UK's most respected politics and current affairs journalists, has followed Murdoch's career for more than five decades. In this series he charts the rise of the man they call The Sun King, beginning when the 38-year-old Australian newspaper executive arrived in London in 1968 and the two men met for the first time.

    Dimbleby tells the story of how Murdoch turned The Sun from a serious and staid broadsheet into the UK's most widely read tabloid newspaper, before moving to the US to take on the New York Post. He explores Murdoch's war against the British print unions and how eventual victory helped him gain access to the highest echelons of power in Britain. But this is not just about Murdoch's rise and rise, Dimbleby also investigates the media mogul's lowest moment – the phone hacking scandal and how it almost brought his empire crashing down. Finally, he tells the story of the origins of Fox News in the US and how that TV channel helped create a president.

    Talking to people who have worked with Murdoch and against him, David asks what Murdoch's special insight is when it comes to building an audience. And how has that insight – the idea of giving people what they want – affected our politics? How influential is Murdoch really and what does that mean for us as a society? At a time when Murdoch's relationship with Trump might leave him in his most powerful position yet, who is the man they call The Sun King?

    ©2019 Audible, Ltd. (P)2019 Audible, Ltd.
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Episodes
  • Ep. 1: The Rise of the Sun King

    Nov 18 2019

    When Rupert Murdoch arrived in London’s Fleet Street, the heart of the UK’s newspaper industry, in 1968, no one knew who this Australian newspaper executive was or what he wanted. It didn’t stay that way for long.

    David tells the story of meeting Murdoch for the first time, interviewing him for the BBC about his ambitions and motivations. Talking to journalists David Banks and Roy Greenslade, as well as art director Vic Giles, he explores how Murdoch transformed The Sun from a low selling broadsheet into a populist tabloid behemoth. Murdoch’s approach to The Sun would be the bedrock of his business strategy for the next 50 years.

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    34 mins
  • Ep. 2: The Prince of Darkness

    Nov 18 2019

    Rupert Murdoch buys America’s oldest newspaper: The New York Post. In 1970s New York crime was rife, social strife played out on the streets and - in the summer of 1977 - a 24-hour blackout caused looting across the city. When a serial killer, known as the “Son of Sam”, starts stalking Brooklyn’s teenagers, Murdoch turns to his star reporter – Australian Steve Dunleavy.

    In this episode, Steve Dunleavy recounts the events of that long hot summer. Can Dunleavy’s reporting help Murdoch make a success of his latest acquisition and establish his empire in the US? We spoke to Dunleavy for this series just a few months before he died in June this year at the age of 81.

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    31 mins
  • Ep. 3: The Wapping Cough

    Nov 18 2019

    By the mid 1980s Rupert Murdoch owned four powerful British newspapers, presided over a longstanding media empire in Australia and was expanding from newspapers into television in the US. But he had a problem - the British print unions, who were limiting his potential for growth. So Murdoch decided to pull off perhaps his most daring move yet.

    Through interviews with some of the main players David tells the inside story of how Murdoch carried out a top secret plan to destroy the unions and transform the staid, old fashioned world of the British newspaper industry forever. He talks to David Banks – the man who led Murdoch’s operation inside the Wapping factory – and who tells his story here for the first time. He also speaks to Paul King – a printer on the front lines of Murdoch’s fight against the unions. And to Linda Melvern, the investigative journalist who broke the story of Murdoch’s plan.

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    40 mins

What listeners say about The Sun King

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Big Fat Wapping Lies!

First off this is an absolute masterclass in the production of an audio documentary, the sound, the interview selection and the use of music is all absolutely top notch. Dimbleby is quite simply a class act and few people will have more insight into the old Fleet Street scene and indeed UK/US journalism. It's fascinating to see the similarities between how the two men (Dimbleby and Murdoch) started and the huge gulf that lies between them now.

'The Sun King' is a little over four hours of concise, well-produced journalism telling a story that most of us know parts of but almost no-one knows all of it. Murdoch has been a massive innovator, a huge political influence and incredibly single-minded in his pursuit of his goals. He's a strong man and a strong character and I would genuinely have been interested in his side of the story - though he apparently and unsurprisingly declined the opportunity.

I have very strong views about Murdoch and his type, they aren't positive views. However, leaving that aside it's admirable to see how Dimbleby and the team constructed their narrative and told the story. There are of course some jaw-droppingly awful things that have occurred under his watch with the phone-hacking scandal obviously being front and centre. The way that the story is told does shine what, to me at least, was genuine new light on the subject. There are many interviews with people from the inside of Murdoch's empire which make for fascinating listening.

If you're interested in the subject of media influence on our lives, and I'd humbly submit that we all probably should be, then this is a simply brilliant podcast.

34 people found this helpful

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Scum King

Great listen, a reminder if needed as to what an absolute scumbag Murdoch is. An absolute blight on the world and someone who’s death will be nothing but a good day for mankind.

20 people found this helpful

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REMARKABLE RESEARCH, FLAWLESS PRODUCTION, STUNNING

A random tweet brought this series to my attention. I took a punt. My lord, I'm glad I did, The production & research is quite remarkable. At the risk of sounding nerdy, even the score & sound design are standout.

Ultimately, though - it's the way the narrative [across the six episodes] jumps between decades & continents without ever losing you as a listener. You know exactly where you are and what is happening at all times thanks to a beautifully well-studied/told story.

The closing 5 seconds of the final episode is hilarious, by the way. ha ha.

SCORE: 10/10.

9 people found this helpful

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Devoured it in a day!

A fascinating (and terrifying) look at the global impact of Rupert Murdoch, and how he has fundamentally altered Western media and politics. Great podcast.

11 people found this helpful

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Masterpiece! So relevant to today's audience.

I've already listened to three episodes today and can't wait for my commute tomorrow to hear to the next installation. Absolutely loved the ep about the unions vs Murdoch. Great listening!

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Perfect: thoughtful and gripping

Superbly crafted. Analytical, engaging and an excellent mix of direct personal account and other voices. I’d have welcomed a little more back story, but that’s a small criticism of a brilliant series, which Is so relevant to understanding the exercise of political and media power in these times. Everyone should listen to this.

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Excellent. Biography of a revolution

Born in the same year as Murdoch arrived in London, this story is the news track of my life. The effect of the uncouth Australian is one we should understand well. Populism, pragmatism, power, persecution and the press are all here.

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Pretty darn addictive

For anyone curious about what's keeping Mr Dimbleby busy in retirement... its narrating great content.

Investigative journalism at it's best :-) would have been nice to have a quote from the King himself.

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A story you can't make up

David DImbleby is an excellent host/narrator of this compelling podcast detailing the rises and falls of one of this and the last century's most controversial figures. A story you can't make up and one fit for his publications.

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Best podcast in ages, I want more!

I was gripped by this podcast and my only complaint is that it’s too short, I want more. I think it could easily be twice as long with a more in-depth episode on the fight with the union and the phone tapping scandal (this could be a podcast series on its own).

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  • Alvin Whitehair
  • 26-05-21

a good listen on the owner of Fox Netword and New

A good listen but the bonus episode is a boner. highly recommended and good documentary.

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  • K. Nellies
  • 25-10-20

Superb

Very interesting and first class narration by David Dimbleby. He needs to do more of these.