It appears that even employees of media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s own publications don’t too much care for the cantankerous octogenarian — and they’re not half bad at puzzles, either.
That’s at least the determination that many readers of Australia’s largest newspaper made this week after catching a curious secret message of sorts in the Sunday Telegraph.
It took a few days for anyone to notice, but an “animals of Indonesia”-themed word search puzzle in the children’s section of this weekend’s edition contained more than just the hidden names of regional residents like the weasel and orangutan: within the game were the letters “LIVESIHCODRUM” all in a row.
When written in reverse from backwards to forwards, that cipher spells out “MURDOCH IS EVIL,” a not-so-nice-message some say was intended for the paper’s embattled publisher.
The clue was first spotted by reporters on Tuesday, and the Sunday Telegraph has so far stayed mum on the issue, refusing to offer comment to other publications.
One competitor had something to say, however: Australian publication The Sydney Morning Herald. After the message was spotted, the administrator of the SMH Twitter account announced, “Someone's been having some fun in the Sunday Telegraph.”
— smh.com.au (@smh) December 10, 2013
Others were quick to point out the puzzle and use it as an opportunity to lampoon Murdoch, the 82-year-old mogul whose media empire and reputation alike have been relentlessly under attack in recent years for a number of mishaps. Just this week, in fact, it was reported that Brian Lewis — a former public relations executive at the Murdoch-owned television network Fox News — was paid $8 million to keep quiet about the inner workings of that organization upon his exit.
The meant-to-be-elusive operations of other entities under Murdoch’s News Corp group — which maintains control of papers like The New York Post and Wall Street Journal — haven’t been as secretive, however. Only two months ago a handful of former execs at the corporation’s News of the World paper pleaded guilty for involvement in a controversial phone hacking scandal. Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of The Sun, is currently on trial so a jury can determine what role if any she had in the escapade.
Meanwhile, questions are being asked of not just Brooks, but of the Telegraph’s puzzle writers.
“So was it a mistake? A coincidence?” the Herald’s Tim Elliott asked of the word puzzle in an article published on his paper’s website this Tuesday. “Is a ‘LIVESIHCODRUM’ a new Indonesian species? Or was Harry the Dog trying to tell us something?”
For those unfamiliar with the anamorphic canine, Harry the Dog is the “Newshound” mascot that appears in the Sunday Telegraph alongside the word search puzzle. As for “HCODRUM,” preliminary reports suggest that could very well be the name of the only non-exist dinosaur in the world.