An Unsung Hero of the Theranos Saga: Rupert Murdoch

 

Last night HBO aired a new documentary about the Theranos scandal. Couple this with one of the most popular podcasts of all time and a best-selling book (one of the best I read last year, I highly recommend it), it’s clear that Americans can’t get enough of the story.

From the book jacket, here’s a cliff-notes version of the tale:

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

One aspect of the saga I’ve never thought received enough attention is the involvement of Newscorp’s Rupert Murdoch. He was one of the company’s biggest investors, and he put more cash into Theranos than he had put into almost any other single investment ($125 million).

While the rest of the media were writing fawning profiles of Theranos and its CEO, the Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou smelled a rat and went digging. When Holmes got wind that Carreyrou may be working on a story that could blow her entire operation into oblivion, she called her investor to try to do some damage control. With several other investors (most notably George Schultz, who sided with Holmes over his own grandson) willing to run interference, it wasn’t an unreasonable expectation that Murdoch would use his position of power at his own company to put a stop to the story. But that’s not what Murdoch did.

When Holmes called Murdoch with her concerns over Carreyrou’s reporting, he basically told her (paraphrasing because I don’t have the book in hand) that if there wasn’t a story, he trusted that his editors wouldn’t run with it. They were able to run the Journal without his interference on all other matters, and this wouldn’t be any different.

By letting Carreyrou’s reporting go on, Murdoch lit his entire investment on fire.

You may wonder why we haven’t heard more about this part of the story. Well, probably not, you know why Rupert Murdoch isn’t getting that many accolades. It plays counter to progressive’s entire perspective about Newscorp and its properties. As the wife of a former employee of a different entity (the New York Post) it was nice to read, and it’s contrary to a lot of the opinions out there about how Murdoch runs his companies. There were so many times over the course of my husband’s time at the Post where I’d ask about stories and if he heard if Murdoch had expressed some sort of opinion on it to my husband or his superiors, but he never heard anything of the sort.

The only time my husband Seth ever told me he heard from Murdoch was when some internal extensions were changed around, and he got a few calls from the Boss Man by mistake. (He’d pick up the phone and hear “Please hold for Rupert” and before he could stop the assistant, he’d be on the phone with Murdoch himself.)

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 15 comments.

  1. EJHill Podcaster

    If Rupert Murdoch were really Charles Foster Kane the Fox broadcast network would never have aired three-quarters of the shows that made air.

    • #1
    • March 19, 2019, at 12:45 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  2. EtCarter Listener

    Thank you for a fact I’m sure would not have ever been shared by the SKYNET -TERMINATOR news complex covering the planet.

    I gotta say: not many people will resist that choice in that particular situation. The Journal was the first paper I read on a regular basis cause the first job I had as a kid was as a bellman at a luxury hotel, and WSJ getting delivered to platinum-card members was the very first thing I did every morning.

    After that, it was still so early in the a.m. I had time to take a smoke-break and read the WSJ (back when you could smoke cigs at 18, and inside the breakroom.) 

    • #2
    • March 19, 2019, at 1:11 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Basil Fawlty Member

    If I recall correctly, he once posted on Ricochet.

    • #3
    • March 19, 2019, at 1:16 PM PDT
    • Like
  4. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Re: Murdoch and his ‘greedy capitalist’ image in most of the media — It would be interesting to cross check over the past decade and see how many stories involving negative reports of things Carlos Slim has investments in have made it into the pages of The New York Times (I know that Energy Transfer Partners/Sunoco boss Kelsey Warren got far less media grief for his Trans Pecos pipeline project where he was partnered with Slim than he did for his Dakota Access pipeline project, even though environmentalists during the final years of the Obama Administration were attempting to stop both from being built. Googling both projects, along with the words ‘New York Times’ produces vastly different results).

    • #4
    • March 19, 2019, at 1:52 PM PDT
    • Like
  5. Instugator Thatcher

    Bethany Mandel: The only time my husband Seth ever told me he heard from Murdoch was when some internal extensions were changed around, and he got a few calls from the Boss Man by mistake. (He’d pick up the phone and hear “Please hold for Rupert” and before he could stop the assistant, he’d be on the phone with Murdoch himself.)

    Now that is a post I would read.

    I like to think I would have done my best Edward G Robinson impression and gone “He’s not here see. Rocky’s a little too smart for ya, yah, little too smart.” Then hung up.

    Thrown him off his game for an entire day.

     

    • #5
    • March 19, 2019, at 1:54 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    This is the best example of how to run a news organization.

    Allow the reporters to report the news, and only be concerned about the varsity of the reporting rather than the content of the report.

    • #6
    • March 19, 2019, at 2:06 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. Percival Thatcher

    Bethany Mandel: There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

    Details.

    • #7
    • March 19, 2019, at 2:09 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Instugator Thatcher

    Percival (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

    Details.

    The technology didn’t even exist. It was faked.

    • #8
    • March 19, 2019, at 2:14 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Jager Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

    Details.

    The simple over view was that they promised to build a machine that with a small blood sample could replace like half the laboratory found in a modern hospital. One sample would get dozens of test done at once. The machine just did not do this. It could do like one thing right. The company had basically a standard lab, with normal lab employees running the same test that the hospital does, and then they were kind of passing the results off as though they came from the miracle machine. 

    People who actually work in hospital labs never bought the technology, did not think what they were promising was possible.

    • #9
    • March 19, 2019, at 2:15 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    Percival (View Comment):

    Bethany Mandel: There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

    Details.

    New York Times June 15 2018

    Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of Theranos, the lab testing company that promised to revolutionize health care, and its former president, Ramesh Balwani, were indicted on Friday on charges of defrauding investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars as well as deceiving hundreds of patients and doctors.

    The criminal charges were the culmination of a rarity in Silicon Valley — federal prosecution of a technology start-up. This one boasted a board stacked with prominent political figures and investors, and a startling valuation of $9 billion just a few years ago. In the fabled universe of overnight billionaires and unicorns, companies with billion-dollar valuations, Ms. Holmes had catapulted herself and her company into the buzz-filled world of “disrupters” by pledging to upend the health industry and give consumers control over their own care.

    Both Ms. Holmes and Mr. Balwani pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud. Lawyers for Ms. Holmes could not be reached for comment, but a lawyer for Mr. Balwani said in a statement that his client was “innocent and looks forward to clearing his name at trial.”

    The entire concept was designed to be a fraud – they built a company valued at $9 Billion completely out of an illusion.

     

    • #10
    • March 19, 2019, at 3:11 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Acook Member

    Jager (View Comment):
    People who actually work in hospital labs never bought the technology, did not think what they were promising was possible.

    As someone who spent 40 years working in hospital labortories, I found that book to be flabbergasting. 

    • #11
    • March 20, 2019, at 4:20 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. philo Member

    OccupantCDN (View Comment): The entire concept was designed to be a fraud – they built a company valued at $9 Billion completely out of an illusion.

    Some potentially interesting aspects of the multidimensionality of the fraud / illusion from Anne Althouse:

    The fake baritone voice of Elizabeth Holmes

    The Black turtleneck of Elizabeth Holmes

    I cannot get over how ridiculous the voice comes across now and cannot imagine that it didn’t seem so before whole thing came tumbling down. It would have been priceless for Cramer to just stop the interview and insist that she stop doing that on his show.

     

     

    • #12
    • March 20, 2019, at 5:08 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    philo (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment): The entire concept was designed to be a fraud – they built a company valued at $9 Billion completely out of an illusion.

    Some potentially interesting aspects of the multidimensionality of the fraud / illusion from Anne Althouse:

    The fake baritone voice of Elizabeth Holmes

    The Black turtleneck of Elizabeth Holmes

    I cannot get over how ridiculous the voice comes across now and cannot imagine that it didn’t seem so before whole thing came tumbling down. It would have been priceless for Cramer to just stop the interview and insist that she stop doing that on his show.

     

     

    I had read that she had modeled herself on Steve Jobs, building her look and presentations on him. Its should be embarrassing how easily these “smart” people got swindled. Its like the elites arent that elite anymore.

    • #13
    • March 20, 2019, at 5:53 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Instugator Thatcher

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    Its like the elites arent that elite anymore.

    I am beginning to think they never were.

    Learned a new word too – Kakistocracy. Now I see it everywhere.

    • #14
    • March 21, 2019, at 10:40 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    Instugator (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    Its like the elites arent that elite anymore.

    I am beginning to think they never were.

    Learned a new word too – Kakistocracy. Now I see it everywhere.

    Poor guy. Tom Love Peacock. I cant imagine how rough the school yard would have been for him.

    Good word.

    • #15
    • March 21, 2019, at 2:52 PM PDT
    • 1 like