To ring in the New Year, News Corp Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch joined Twitter, catching the media by surprise. And in just the first two weeks of the year he has attracted over 145,000 followers.
Murdoch has only tweeted 78 times as of today, but he has raised a few eyebrows with tweets saying that he likes GOP presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, and that Newt Gingrich, while a brilliant visionary, has too much baggage and is to “erratic.”
Then, this past weekend, Murdoch took on search engine giant Google, complaining that it was far too easy to find pirated movies on the Internet. Murdoch’s News Corp owns the 20th Century Fox film studio, so he has a vested interest in movie piracy.
While Murdoch has attracted a large following, he is only following 15 accounts, including Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Bill Gates, as well as some of News Corp’s media properties, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, The Daily and The New York Post.
Despite the head-first jump into the Twitterverse for the 80-year old media mogul, The Los Angeles Times  reported that there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm on the part of other entertainment executives to follow suit.
Murdoch is a relative latecomer to Twitter (I’ve been on for over three years). The move is probably driven more by his public relations staff who saw this as a way for Murdoch to try to gain more personal appeal after last year’s News of the World phone hacking scandal, which was a huge embarrassment for Murdoch and News Corp.
This is probably a smart strategy on their part, especially if Murdoch gets more comfortable with the medium and tweets more often.
The only risk to Murdoch is that he will overreact at some point and wind up acting more like Keith Olbermann.