Perhaps it was the emotional trauma of departing his native land for the more seductive business climate of Delaware, USA. Or maybe someone touched a raw nerve?

Whichever, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation and patriarch of its controlling clan, was clearly on the defensive at the group's last annual meeting to be held in Adelaide, Australia.

In response to a question about the political leanings of Fox News, Murdoch told the meeting that his network's reportage is more balanced than any of its rivals.

"[Fox is] full of Democrats and Republicans, the others only have Democrats. We don't take any position at all. We're not in the least bit biased, we're a fair and balanced company."

This answer gave rise to conjecture that the NewsCorp chairman is mulling second career in stand-up satire; while others worry that although his numeracy remains unimpaired, the passing years have befuddled his semantics.

News professionals such as CNN-founder Ted Turner point to Murdoch's one hundred and seventy-five newspaper editors dotted across three continents - a happy band which displays remarkable unanimity of thought with its master on almost every subject - especially those of international importance such the upcoming presidential election and the ongoing war in Iraq.

Of the latter, the highly respected Turner told a conference in San Francisco last year: "I call it Murdoch's War." Turner contended that the magnate had promoted the Iraq war because "it's good for his newspapers and good for his television stations".

As to the partisanship of his media outlets on matters presidential, Murdoch makes no secret of where he and his editors stand. "We have indeed supported Bush's foreign policy and we remain that way," he said.

He also avers that a Bush victory next week will produce "a lift to the market ... and you'll get continuation of his tax reduction program, which will help, and interest rates will stay low, probably."

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff