In the second episode of season four of Succession, Logan Roy, on the eve of the end of the Waystar Royco empire as he’s built it, and increasingly irascible about the editorial direction and future of his news network ATN, showed up in that newsroom to rally his troops. Cousin Greg shoved together a group of boxes of photocopy paper, providing Logan with a low, improvised, potentially shaky stage from which to roar, and roar he did, raging about the competition. “They’re too fucking lily-livered. They cannot believe what we said and that we fucking said it! They’re fucking jam smears on the highway!” he bellowed to his reporters and editors, getting a throaty cheer in return.
It was less raucous on that day in December 2007 when Rupert Murdoch showed up at The Wall Street Journal, the paper he’d just bought from the Bancroft family for around $5 billion (just half of a Pierce purchase). The Bancrofts had owned it for 105 years, during which they treated the paper’s integrity as sacred (much as the fictional Pierces feel about their holdings), and then, after lots of agonizing, had reluctantly decided to take their billions and run (ditto).
After Murdoch closed the deal, he came to address the Journal’s staff — and did so on an improvised podium that clearly inspired last night’s, though Logan’s Hammermill boxes had blue lids. In both cases, the aged mogul, hoping that some dead-tree product would lift him high enough to influence everyone, instead seems paradoxically smaller as his assistants uneasily eye the whole thing to make sure it doesn’t tip over and injure him. No metaphors there!