Saturday, April 17, 2021

The lawyer behind the throne at Fox

LOS ANGELES – In early 2019, with the Murdoch family completing 21st-century Disney’s $ 71 billion sale, movie studio executives found out that someone was reading all their emails.

And not just anyone: Vet Dean, chief legal officer of Fiat Corporation, a close friend of Fox’s chief executive, Lachlan Murdoch, had brought a team of lawyers to investigatePotential inappropriate use of Fox data. “Top 21st-century Fox executives said they were suspected of leaking to Disney while the terms were still being inscribed, a Fox spokesman said. The studio’s president, Peter Rice, And the company’s general counselor, Gerson Zwieffach, protested that they were only conducting general transition planning – and Mr. Dinh was getting so mad that he could blow up the transaction.

This episode did not pay attention to the deal. But an already rare dispute between studio executives and Mr. Dinh, a sociable and tireless Republican lawyer who was the chief architect of the antiterrorism law known as the Patriot Act in 2001, was a rare one in Rupert Murdoch’s opaque power structure of the world Provides glimpses. . Nongenian Mogul exercises immense power to drive a global wave of right-wing populism through the news channel and Fox Corporation. But the core elements of their media companies remain entangled in mystery.

In the case of Fox Corporation, questions about who is in charge and what the future holds are particularly blurred. The company, its studio, is now a midsize TV company in the landscape of giants such as Disney and AT&T that control everything from cellular phone networks to streaming platforms, film and television. Fox’s profits dominate Fox News. LaChalan Murdoch’s more generous brother, James, who no longer has an operational role in family businesses, has clarified that he would like to see a change.

And ever since the studio was sold, a man who knows Lachlan Murdoch said, Los Angeles has become a less hospitable place for him and his family. If you’re a studio boss with actors and directors on the payroll, then Hollywood can ignore your embarrassing right-wing cable interests. But after the Disney sale, and the January 6 Capitol Uprising, Mr. Murdoch risked becoming a social pariah. James Murdoch did not help when he Complaint to Financial Times About the “outlets” they promote to their audiences. “

Last month, Lachlan Murdoch moved his family to Sydney, Australia, where the company’s core assets are American. The move intensified the perception – when he stood out as Fox News hosts Misinformed Last year, Kovid-19 was told by his audience – Mr. Murdoch does not have the reins. It hurts the company to reproduce that notion: a Fox spokesperson told me that Mr Murdoch is so committed that he has adopted a one-night lifestyle, working from midnight to 10am in Sydney. Does. (She also said that it would be “wrong and malicious” to say that Mr. Fox is exercising operational control over business units.) It is such a frightening situation that a senior Fox employee went so far last week to ask me Called for last week. I also knew something about succession plans. I promised that I would tell him if I found out.

But Mr. Dinh, 53 years old, was ready to step in, and has actually been seen internally as the company’s power center before moving around the world under Mr. Murdoch’s leadership. Mr Dinh’s ascent is an unexpected turn in his career that met Lachlan Murdoch at the 2003 Aspen Institute event. The Murdoch heir later asked him to fill a seat on the company’s board and become the godfather for his son. (“He couldn’t find any other Catholics,” Mr. Dinh joked to the New York Observer in 2006.)

Two former Fox employees and a current and a former Fox News employee, familiar with his role, portrayed him as the omnipresent and decisive right-hand man of the chief executive, who is not particularly hands-on. (He only spoke on the situation he has not named because Fox keeps a tight grip on his public relations.) While Mr. Day is not running day-to-day programming, he manages the political operations of a company that Is the central pillar. In Republican politics, and he is an important voice on corporate strategy, having played a role in Fox’s drive to gain and partner his way in the global online gambling industry.

in A recent interview With Legal Writer David Latt – “Are the Most Powerful Lawyers in America?” – Mr. Dinh called this column and suggestions in The Financial Times that he is more than a “flat-out liar” a polite in-house lawyer.

He said, “For me for any role other than my day job, which is overseeing legal, regulatory and governmental affairs, is not only wrong, it would mean that I have more than I actually do There is far more time ”jurisdiction newspaper. “Lachlan has hired me for what is a full-time job, which I can do 24 hours a day.”

But her compensation in 2019 – $ 24 million, and an increase in her salary due to an epidemic of $ 12 million last year – is, it is believed, a high-stakes clash in the Disney deal and her unusually close personal to Murdoch Families do episodes like relationships.

Mr. Dinh, who declined to be interviewed through a company spokesman, is a surprising figure to play a central role overseeing the Trump movement’s most powerful megaphone. He is part of a tight, elite group of conservative lawyers, largely Donald J. Trump’s bombardment and disdain of the law – he is routinely asked to personally humiliate the former president – though he praised his judicial appointments and some other policies. And Mr. Dinh is not just a member of that group, but a true star of his. A refugee from Vietnam who arrived at the age of 10, he Once told VietLife magazine He said that “many tasks including cleaning toilets, settling tables, pumping gas, picking berries, fixing cars were done” To help meet his family. He studied at Harvard and Harvard Law School. As a student, he wrote a Powerful Times Op-Ed About Vietnamese refugees – including his sister and nephew – stranded in Hong Kong. The piece helped him win refugee status, and eventually allowed him to remain in the United States.

Mr. Dinh arrived with the conservative politics of many refugees from communism, and followed a pipeline from the Supreme Court clerkship with Sandra Day O’Connor to a role in Bill Clinton’s congressional investigation in the 1990s.

He was the assistant attorney general for legal policy on 9/11, and was the “fifth-most likely person” to become the Patriot Act. Defamation Lawsuits Two elections were brought by technology companies. A former Bush White House homeland security adviser, Ken Weinstein, said, “Mr. President attempted to pull it together, package it, present it on the hill and get it passed.” The package of legislation changed the state of American security, expanding domestic surveillance and law enforcement powers. This allowed the FBI to conduct Covert and Intrusion Investigation Flowed from the expanded definition of terrorism of people and groups.

Mr. Diné was often cited at the time as a brilliant young lawyer who could easily wind up the first Asian-American on the Supreme Court. He was also largely image-conscious and “acted like a media maniac” to Jill Abramson, former bureau chief and later executive editor of The Times. He is also a master Washington networker whose relationships cross party lines. His best college friend is Democratic former US Attorney Preet Bharara. Through the epidemic, Mr. Dinh commented on the job announcements of other lawyers on LinkedIn.

Mr. Dinh left government for private practice during President George W. Bush’s first term, and founded and sold Bancroft, a high-end Washington law firm. He developed a reputation as a well-connected workaholic, and a man who would prepare for a drink at lunch.

He is not like the boss who is worried about burning his employees. His idea was “less that he has to think about where his trickery is, as much work as he can,” said Lindsey Shea, a former assistant who also described him as a devoted guru.

In 2011, Murdoch’s close ties to Mr Dinh were criticized by Murdoch’s journalists in Britain for playing a central role in a largely independent investigation into phone hacking.

Mr. Dinh stepped down from the Fox board in 2018 to take a legal job. He tightened the company’s ties to the Republican establishment, with former House Speaker Paul Ryan joining the company’s board in 2019. Fox corporation, Hiring a top Republican opposition researcher, Raj Shah, to monitor online criticism of the company and develop a strategy to counter it.

Now, Mr. Dinh finds himself in the awkward position of many of Rupert Murdoch’s top lieutenants: he is paid like a chief executive, and fills the larger strategic role that comes with that job. He also has a type of leverage in the family business, a personal relationship with Lachlan Murdoch that allows him to take on Mr. Rice, himself the son of a Rupert Murdoch associate. But Mr. Dinh is still working for a business that dominates Mr. Trump and Fox’s need to follow viewers, lest they move further away from the network to the right, such as Newsmax. And the family eventually maintains control.

And Mr. Dinh’s own agenda may be difficult for the divine. In interviews with Mr. Latt, he reiterated to Fox News extensively, talking about the quality and fairness of the network’s coverage. He also expressed pride in Fox’s ephemerality with a desire to cross the last stop of the presidency, even as the network later fired the political analysts who offended Mr. Trump the most.

“Fox News has no historical record better than excellent journalism to see how the former president tweeted against Fox,” Mr. Dinh said.

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