Scene: Rupert Murdoch’s Manhattan Apartment, Wednesday night, Oct. 9, 2019. Fox Corporation Chairman Murdoch and U.S. Attorney General William Barr sit in leather chairs while two assistants, dressed in dark suits, use hand-held electronics to scan the room for listening devices. The security men signal all clear, then depart, closing the door behind them..
RUPERT MURDOCH: All right Bill, what’s so damned important?
U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR: The word around 1600 is that Paul Ryan has Lachlan’s ear these days. If your boy’s thinking about abandoning our agreement, that’s going to be a problem.
MURDOCH: Are you threatening me, Bill? Because I can pick up that phone and end this entire charade anytime I choose. One call.
BARR: But you won’t do that, Rupert. You know what we’re holding. Imagine the scene at the opening bell, and that News Corp. share price. Minute. By. Minute.
MURDOCH: So now we’ve sniffed each other. What does he want?
BARR: Your promise that Fox will uphold our agreement no matter what. Complete discipline to Presidential loyalty.
MURDOCH: I hope I don’t need to remind you, Bill, but “President loyalty” is the means, not the end. I agreed to the plan and the timetable, and I’ll uphold my end like I always do. But in the meantime, I’ve got a brand to protect. The House hasn’t even called the first vote and your boys in the Senate are already pissing themselves. Even if you get past the trial in — what? March? In the middle of the primaries? You simply don’t have the numbers for November! C’mon Bill! You can read a poll!
BARR: You leave the vote counts to us. We write the script. You read the script. The President re-Tweets the script.
MURDOCH: Pence would keep you on, Bill. It’s the smart play.
BARR (erupting in frustration): There aren’t any more “smart plays,” Rupert! We fucked that up years ago! This isn’t about smart. This is about keeping the thing afloat, and if we go down, you go down. Everything goes down.
MURDOCH: You know he can’t handle this kind of pressure. There’s going to be actual blood in the streets once this begins. He’ll crack.
BARR (settling down again): And we’ll manage it, like we managed his previous crises. Come on, Rupert. You know who put me here. You know why they sent me. You could have ended this thing in 2016, but you didn’t, and that’s on you. So no more pussyfoot hand-wringing about your “brand.” It was always going to come to this, and now I need your promise that you’ll hold your end of the line until it’s over.
MURDOCH: Martial law?
BARR: We’re still working on the messaging for that, but once we’ve got things back under control, we’ll convene the New America Constitutional Convention. Which is testing very well within the relevant demographics.
MURDOCH: We’ll need exclusive broadcast rights, of course. No more “One American News Network” bullshit, Bill.
BARR: Done. One last thing, Rupert: He’s going to need a head. As a sign of good faith.
BARR: By the end of the week. I’m thinking Judge Nap.
MURDOCH: How about Shep?
BARR (laughs): Shep’s been negotiating an out since last week! Come on, Rupert! Everybody knows that!
MURDOCH: Does your idiot boss know that?
BARR (sighs, pauses, thinks): Fine then. Shep it is.