Why do people fear Rupert Murdoch?

It’s hard to believe it was only a week ago that News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch sat before Parliament, telling a select committee that he had “perhaps lost sight of” News of the World among his vast media empire’s countless properties and its 53,000-plus employees. Murdoch’s goal was to put some distance between himself and the phone-hacking scandal that’s engulfed News Corp.–and to put forth an image that runs counter to his long-established reputation as a tyrannical mogul.”This is the most humble day of my life,” Murdoch said.

But a story published in today’s New York Times–which looks to dispel the notion that Murdoch is a detached owner–asserts that Murdoch “remains at his core a hard-nosed businessman with the instincts of a tabloid reporter.” That’s the CEO’s image, the Times reports, among “many former and current employees, who all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to make Mr. Murdoch angry.”That last part appears to be key; to what degree Murdoch is (or was) involved in the day-to-day operations of his newspapers is up for debate. But current and former employees from the executive suite on down seem to all fear him.

Their accounts are in line with those that have started to emerge elsewhere in Murdoch’s global empire in the scandal’s wake.”The culture that exists at his newspapers is a culture he has developed,” Bruce Guthrie, a former editor at Murdoch’s Herald Sun in Melbourne, told Reuters last week. “When I was last at News I was astonished how some editors would almost factor in Rupert even though he was 12,000 miles away. You could almost see them thinking, ‘what will Rupert think of this?'”And this, despite the portrayal of Murdoch by yet other News Corp. staffers as a man of few words. “Rupert comes across as quite unassuming,” an unnamed ex-New of the World reporter told Reuters. “The quiet assassin.”

“What really amazed me was that his social voice was extremely soft,” Margo Howard recalled of first meeting, several years ago, with Murdoch. “He just didn’t sound like a ruthless, tough guy mogul and thug. But I knew then, as I know now, he carried a big stick.”To get a sense of just how deep the fear of Rupert Murdoch reaches within News Corp.’s rank-and-file, read this hilarious account (“Rupert Murdoch, Neel Shah, and the Short Pants,” relayed by College Humor co-founder Ricky Van Veen) about a year-long practical joke played on then-Page Six reporter Neel Shah.

So I show up to work today wearing a short-sleeve collared shirt, boat shoes, and dressy shorts. It’s only the second time I’ve worn shorts to work, but it’s like 90 degrees out and, quite frankly, everyone at the Post dresses like a slob, so I actually look pretty good by comparison. Anyway. I go downstairs to the third floor cafeteria to get breakfast. I’m paying for everything, and shooting the shit with Sal, the dude who runs the cafe. And we’re bullsh—ing about the Mets, when all of a sudden the phone rings. Sal answers, “This is the NewsCafe. Oh, hello, Mr. Murdoch, how are you?”

So obviously my ears perk up at the mention of Our Fearless Leader. Sal looks at me oddly and goes, “Mr. Murdoch would like to know why you’re wearing short pants.” So I look at Sal and am like, “Dude, what the hell are you talking about?” And he continues talking into the phone without taking his eye off me and is like, “Yes, I see, okay, I’ll ask,” and then looks at me and goes, again, “Mr. Murdoch is inquiring again as to why you are wearing short pants in the office.” And I look at Sal and am like, “I do not follow. How does he know I’m wearing shorts?” And Sal covers the receiver and says, “He is in his office but he can see you. He has a camera down here.”

I popped into a side conference room for a few minutes, I was gonna eat in there, at one of the tables, before I decided that the gym was a safer bet. I was in there for maybe 90 seconds, just standing around, totally dumbfounded as to what was going on and trying to figure out if this was an elaborate joke. So Sal goes, ‘He also wanted to know why you were standing in the conference room for two minutes. He thought you were playing tricks on him.’ I ask Sal, ‘He saw me go into the side conference room?’ To which Sal replies, “He sees everything down here.” – Yahoo