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Rupert Murdoch SIPA USA/PA Images
7 deadly reads

Sitdown Sunday: The long and fascinating career of the controversial Rupert Murdoch

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair.

We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. Rupert Murdoch

This deep-dive into Rupert Murdoch’s career is a must-read if you’re interested in the work he – and his children – have done.

(New York Times magazine, approx 46 mins reading time)

 As the head of a sprawling global media empire, he commanded multiple television networks, a global news service, a major publishing house and a Hollywood movie studio. His newspapers and television networks had been instrumental in amplifying the nativist revolt that was reshaping governments not just in the United States but also across the planet.

2. The mass psychology of Brexit

What is going on with Brexit? This essay tries to get to the bottom of it…

(The LRB, approx 16 mins reading time)

During the centuries in which Britain maintained its global empire, this sense of being special did not rest on a simple identity. The British Empire looked alternately towards the European continent, where it sought to maintain the balance of power, and towards the seas, where it reigned supreme. This dual perspective began to weaken when a second type of empire – Ellen Meiksins Wood called it the empire of capital – replaced the earlier one, especially during the Thatcher years.

3. The strange case of Jussie Smollett

This podcast looks into what happened with Jussie Smollett, and the inquiry into the alleged attack on him.

(The Guardian, approx 26 mins listening time)

On 29 January, Chicago police announced they were investigating a suspected racist and homophobic attack on the TV star Jussie Smollett by two masked men who shouted pro-Trump slogans. There was an outpouring of anger and support for Smollett, with even the US president offering sympathy.

4. Why are dogs leaping into this Scottish gorge?

A bizarre story about a bridge in Scotland that dogs keep leaping off – often, to their death. What’s causing the strange behaviour?

(New York Times, approx 7 mins reading time)

“Something overcame Bonnie as soon as we approached the bridge,” Ms. Mackinnon said. “At first she froze, but then she became possessed by a strange energy and ran and jumped right off the parapet.”

5. I wrote a story that became a legend… but it wasn’t true

In 2003, Mark Gardiner wrote about a man who helped save people’s lives in the Mont Blanc tunnel disaster. But he discovered a few years later that things weren’t as they seemed.

(Columbia Journalism Review, approx 15 mins reading time)

In the days after the fire, regional newspapers credited Tinazzi with rescuing ten people. Reporters described him making four trips into the tunnel, ferrying people out on his motorcycle. On the fifth trip, he came across a French truck driver named Maurice Lebras, who was alive but unconscious, according to messages Tinazzi communicated via a tunnel intercom. Tinazzi dragged him into ‘Niche No. 20’ – another refuge – and closed the fire door, which guaranteed safety from a fire for four hours. The fire burned for 50 hours. 

6. The women behind the women

As more women enter the workforce, that means that often they need to rely on domestic workers to keep things going at home. But are they stifling those women’s careers by making them look after their home and children?

(The Atlantic, approx 10 mins reading time)

I moved pretty thoughtlessly into having a woman come into my home and work full-time. But very quickly, I started to experience things that surprised me. The emotional components of trust, love, and jealousy, the attempt to turn a household into a job site, and the way that intersects with power imbalances of money and race … I hadn’t anticipated it. The more I adjusted to being a mother, the more uncomfortable I was, because I was looking at my nanny and thinking, She’s a mother, too. Who’s taking care of her baby?


Steven Pollock is known as the magic mushroom pioneer. He was murdered in 1981. In 2011, a cassette tape was sent to a reporter which contained a recording of two police officers discussing their involvement in his death.

(Harper’s, approx 60 mins reading time)

I had offered to pay for the tape but Davis refused, insisting he just wanted it to be heard by as many people as possible, then backtracking and suggesting he wouldn’t mind terribly if I sent him twenty dollars for beer. I was worried about the tape’s integrity and had been reading anxiously about the myriad problems that befall aging magnetic media — binder embrittlement, remanence reduction, even fungal contamination — and the transaction was further charged by a stern warning from another source: “This information should be treated with due caution. Some of these cops, if still living, could be very dangerous.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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