08/04/2005 03:16 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Murdoch Family Values

I’ve resisted writing about Lachlan Murdoch’s decision to leave the executive suite of the News Corporation until now because, like Lachlan’s dad, I’ve been “particularly saddened” by the development. Actually, Daniel Gross in Slate found that quote from Rupert’s weekend press release on the departure peculiar, alleging that Murdoch pere was not a man known for his emotions. On the contrary, I’d suggest he’s possessed of quite a few; the problem for outsiders may be that most of them are expressed in the keen, and requited, urge to nail someone’s penis to the floor.

Monday’s Wall Street Journal and today's UK Guardian reported that a key issue in Lachlan’s decision to ankle the family biz may be intensely familial: when Anna (wife #2) was discarded, she chose not to pursue half of hubby’s holdings. Her price: a favored position in the family trust for her three children, of which Lachlan was the senior. But, in the years since Rupert married Wendy Deng (wife #3), two very young children have come along, and, supposedly at Wendy’s urging, Rupert now wants to reopen the trust agreement to make way for the toddlers.

In other words, Lachlan may have learned, somewhat later than non-family members, that when Mr. Murdoch signs a contract, he means to observe it for just as long as it suits him.