Rupert Murdoch’s Twitter attack on Scientology may have seemed shocking and out of place, but those close to the media titan said he still harbors resentment at the church for trying to court his son Lachlan, even dispatching Tom Cruise personally to recruit him.
Murdoch inserted himself into the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes divorce battle with a tweet Sunday bashing Scientology that read, “Scientology back in news. Very weird cult, but big, big money involved with Tom Cruise either No. 2 or 3 in hierarchy.” He followed with another tweet, “Watch Katie Holmes and Scientology story develop. Something creepy, maybe even evil, about these people.”
The church, which has gained a reputation for suing and harassing its enemies, does not seem to scare Murdoch, a close friend told The Daily Beast.
“He has a long memory and no love for Scientology,” the ally said.
Scientology officials reportedly had their sights on Lachlan, using Tom Cruise and Lachlan’s friend James Packer to try to recruit him into the religion, The Daily Beast said. Lachlan and Packer, who were partners in a failed telecommunications company, became friends with Cruise and then-wife Nicole Kidman, spending time with Cruise on his private jet.
Friends of the Murdochs said the Scientologists were only interested in the money. Packer is from one of the richest families in Australia.
“It would have been Scientology’s biggest ‘get’ to have Lachlan Murdoch, then the heir apparent to Rupert, in the fold,” the source told The Daily Beast.
Lachlan held out and soon cut his ties with Cruise.
Rupert Murdoch’s comments earned scorn from Scientologists and a flurry of angry responses on Twitter. Some of them pointed out that Murdoch made millions of dollars from Cruise, who starred in 20th Century Fox films like “Minority Report.”
The fracas with Scientology hasn’t seemed to hurt Rupert Murdoch financially, Forbes reported. The billionaire made $136 million on Monday after shares of News Corp. stock shup up after word that it would spin off into two separate companies.