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As overlord of HarperCollins, Rupert Murdoch’s most infamous editorial directive was his decision to kill a book by Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last British governor. Despite a contract, Patten’s book was axed to curry favor with the Chinese government. Judging from reviews of the politically advantageous titles Murdoch has seen fit to print, currying favor with readers is not as high a priority.

Deng Xiaoping: My Father by Deng Maomao (1995). Advance: a reported $1 million. “[An] unrestrainedly adulatory piece of hagiography…. [She] bores her readers…. Were the publishers in such a rush to produce a scoop that they did not even bother to edit the 500-page manuscript? There is no end of mistakes of grammar and usage.” –Rene Goldman, Toronto Star
To Renew America by Newt Gingrich (1995). Advance: $4.5 million (until the House Ethics Committee intervened). “A padded version of his stock speeches…. Fans will be insulted to discover that their man’s manifesto is as substantial as a Big Mac. Archenemies will be confounded when they try to attack a book that evaporates upon contact.” –John Allison, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Coming to Terms by Anna Murdoch, Rupert’s now-separated wife (1991). “With all its faults there is a moral to this story, and it is uplifting: All the money and influence in the world can’t help you write a good book.” –Martha Harron, Toronto Star

“It is encouraging to read such a positive novel.” –Sophia Sackville-West, British Sunday Times [Owned by News Corp.]


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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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