Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall Root for U.S. at Think-Tank Galaby
Gorman, Loeb, Black also attend Hudson Institute Dinner
Murdoch: 'Around our country is a restless desire for revival'
Rupert Murdoch agreed that a rugby match is more fun than a gala. But the media tycoon did what he could to make the Hudson Institute Global Leadership Award Dinner interesting: Jerry Hall, in flats, was his date (as she was at the Rugby World Cup final, where Murdoch’s homeland of Australia lost to the Kiwis). And he chose a team to root for -- America.
“The U.S.A. must understand and be proud of and assert the American personality," Murdoch, 84, said in front of 380 guests in the Plaza Hotel ballroom. They included Morgan Stanley’s chairman and chief executive officer, James Gorman, also Australian-born; Point72 Asset Management President Doug Haynes; Third Point CEO Dan Loeb; and Apollo Global Management Chairman and CEO Leon Black.
The Hudson Institute is a conservative think tank based in Washington D.C. founded by Herman Kahn, with a mission, per the gala program, to promote "American leadership and global engagement for a secure, free, and prosperous future."
Murdoch, a naturalized U.S. citizen, defined America’s personality by quoting both F. Scott Fitzgerald (America is "a willingness of the heart") and the Star-Spangled Banner ("land of the free, home of the brave"). Social mobility is "a moral imperative regardless of color or class," Murdoch said, and a "robust military" is important.
"If it were not for U.S. intervention in the Pacific, we Australians would not speak with our distinctive drawl," Murdoch said of America’s military might in World War II.
Other American contributions to the world: the mass production of antibiotics, protecting South Korea’s "striving democracy," and fracking. In Ukraine and the streets of Paris, without assertion of freedom and humane values by the U.S., "global affairs collapse."
Team U.S.A. isn’t in the best of shape, though. America is afflicted by "a serious malaise" and "an identity crisis," Murdoch said. "In recent years, there’s been too much institutionalization of grievance and victimhood."
The way forward is to provide "a sense of direction for celebrating America’s exceptionalism," Murdoch said. "Around our country is a restless desire for revival."
He called on the gathering of elites to take responsibility. "How can we in this room be content with poverty, intellectual or economic?" he said.
The gala, which raised $1.1 million, brought out former Senator Joseph Lieberman, former secretary of labor Elaine Chao and former attorney general Michael Mukasey. Murdoch’s son James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, sat with John Waldron, co-head of investment banking at Goldman Sachs. Gorman sat with another Aussie, Jacques Nasser, chairman of BHP Billiton. Black sat with Hudson Institute fellow Marie-Josee Kravis (whose husband, Henry, was in China, she said).
Murdoch "turns down most of the opportunities to be honored," Roger Ailes, the chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel, said during the cocktail hour. "He doesn’t have to go out at night, he doesn’t need the money, he doesn’t need the contacts, so he’s happy to stay at home. But this one, he said, ‘I like the Hudson Institute, I know those people, it’s good.’"
"I have a lot of friends here," Murdoch said, before sitting down to dinner with Hall and Henry and Nancy Kissinger. The former secretary of state introduced Murdoch as honoree, thanking him for "establishing a clear alternative point of view" in his media platforms, which include Fox News, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal. "If I may say a personal word: I like him as a human being," Kissinger added. "I even like his apparent diffidence in private conversation."
Gorman said that Murdoch "has been a great model for all of us" as "a global businessman who happens to be Australian." Gorman also shared how Christmas is celebrated Down Under: "They usually have turkey and ham, and they cook it at a very hot temp, on a very hot day, because it’s the middle of summer. It’s something most Americans would probably find offensive."