Where’s Rupert? Murdoch’s Twitter account lays dormant on politics

Rupert Murdoch’s Twitter stream has remained quiet on Australian politics for months. Photo: Brendon Thorne/BloombergIt’s one of Twitter’s most scrutinised accounts and its clout has been applied to subjects as diverse as Australia politics and religious disputes in the Middle East.
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Yet, like a Mars rover that had lost contact with Earth, there’s been eerie silence from Rupert Murdoch’s normally combative account in recent months, a silence broken only to express his excitement for X-Men or, like on Wednesday morning, to congratulate one of his publications on a special edition.

While not an early adopter of Twitter, Murdoch, who joined in late 2011, quickly warmed to it. His more than 1100 tweets frequently feature commentary on politics and policy, as well as the plight of his media empire.

Yet the 83-year-old media mogul didn’t even mutter a word after the conviction of Andy Coulson and the acquittal of golden-girl Rebekah Brooks, nor his New York minute with Tony Abbott in June.

The US citizen, who drew criticism for using his account to pontificate on Australian politics during the 2013 election, hasn’t made a single reference to domestic politics in more than seven months – his longest break by far.

UNSW associate professor David McKnight, who has published a book on Rupert Murdoch’s political influence, said the silence might be making amends for his heightened activity during the election.

“He may have gone a little overboard in the lead up to the election by saying how much he liked Tony Abbott as a conviction politician,” he said. “Perhaps he was told off by an advisor or maybe he worked out that he should just lay off it for a while.”

Given the dramas the Coalition has endured trying to sell its budget and its sliding standing in the opinion polls, a 140-character pep talk from Murdoch might have been expected.

But Murdoch’s last reference to Tony Abbott was on the PM’s first day in office on September 19 when he tweeted praise for him “firing top bureaucrats, merging departments, and killing carbon tax”. Great first day by PM Abbott firing top bureaucrats,merging departments and killing carbon tax. Much more to do yet. — Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) September 19, 2013

A month earlier he urged the Abbott Government to “cancel wild spending” after railing against public sector workers, sick days, and “phony welfare scroungers sucking the life out of economy”. Australia feels totally different to six months ago. Govt will cut massive regulations giving real optimism. Should cancel wild spending. — Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) November 2, 2013

Ogilvy managing director Yianni Konsantopoulos said when Murdoch does tweet his account proves to be influential, although not as powerful as his tabloid mastheads in Australia.

“He’s got more than 500,000 people following him and he’s been using the platform for the better part of three years,” he said.

“His klout score, which is how most organisations define how influential a user, is 90 which is really high,” he said.

“Obama comes out with a score of 99 and most big influencers internationally rank around the 70 mark.”

Mr Konsantopoulos said the nature of Murdoch’s content just reinforces the fact he’s the only one who is controlling the account, although he said he’s definitely had some help compiling a list of who to follow.

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