IT IS a story of mystery and intrigue that would not seem out of place in the pages of one of Rupert Murdoch's red-top newspapers - were it not for the fact that this particular tale features the media tycoon himself.
It began with a strangely cryptic message the 83-year-old owner of The Sun sent to his 557,000 Twitter followers on Monday. It read simply: "Po." The message, apparently posted by Mr Murdoch in error, would probably have passed unnoticed were it not for one of the replies posted underneath by another Twitter user called Anthony Rooney.
Po— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) January 27, 2015
"There's [a] person I know in a senior position at News UK who tells me they know RM is often drunk when he tweets," he wrote, referring to the British subsidiary of Mr Murdoch's News Corp which publishes The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.
Mr Murdoch's message also attracted the attention of Graham Linehan, the Irish comedy writer and prolific Twitter user, who jokingly speculated that the media tycoon may be in his death throes. Responding to Mr Linehan, the same user repeated his claim. "RM's often shitfaced pissed when tweeting and the editorial staff worry," he wrote.
The series of tweets by Mr Rooney, who deleted his account shortly after publishing the claims, prompted the US website Gawker to investigate further. It ran the results under an article headed: "Is Rupert Murdoch tweeting while drunk?"
The website said it had pieced together an online trail linking Mr Rooney to a top executive at The Sun. According to his previous interactions on Twitter, Mr Rooney regularly took part in a quiz at the Prospect of Whitby pub in Wapping, east London, near the former offices of Mr Murdoch's British titles, with people who knew the executive.
News UK declined to comment when contacted by The Independent, but Mr Murdoch himself appears to be aware of the allegations, as a scoffing tweet he sent out shortly after the claims were published clearly demonstrated. "Believe Gawker, believe any nonsense," it said.
It is not the first time that one of Mr Murdoch's tweets has caused controversy. Shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, he wrote that while "most Moslems" might be peaceful, they must ultimately be held responsible for the religion's "growing jihadist cancer".
His comments were widely condemned, prompting him to issue a clarification four days later. "Certainly did not mean all Muslims responsible for Paris attack. But Muslim community must debate and confront extremism," he wrote.
This month, he angered anti-Page 3 campaigners by suggesting that the only people protesting about The Sun's pictures of topless women were "horrible elites".
One user who angrily responded was a nurse affected by the public-sector pay freeze. But many of Mr Murdoch's tweets are more confusing than controversial. In 2012, he sent out a message which simply said: "Louise Mensch." He did not elaborate on why he had chosen to invoke the name of the British politician, who was then Conservative MP for Corby. She subsequently became a Sun columnist.
Mogul's missives: Murdoch's best tweets
15 Jun 2012 I stand by every word is aid at Leveson.
12 Jul 2012 What was wrong with Iraq war? Saddam Hussein evil major killer, etc. Execution another matter... Afghan bad every way now.
30 Mar 2013 James
13 Oct 2013 "Please expose Eric Schmidt, Google" etc. Just wait!
14 Oct 2013 Oops! Better ignore last tweet.
9 Feb 2014 Great partnership between spotify and Times of London. Fabulous tone quality. I link spotify to my jambox.
18 Feb Wild winter in US, UK, etc. no respectable evidence any of this man made climate change in spite of blindly ignorant politicians.
13 Apr Vegans wake up! Bill Clinton looks incredibly healthy after giving up this nonsense. We all need a little red meat.
20 Apr Google grows more exciting. Now hiring top academics to work on anti-aging
28 Jul Asked is my daughter friend of David Cameron? Don't know, but hope not. Really not my business.
10 Sept Piers Morgan seems unemployed after failing to attract any audience in US. Seemed out of place. Once talented, now safe to ignore. 10 Sept Did not mean to hurt Piers Morgan. Piers a friend and a legend.
29 Nov Moses film attacked on Twitter for all white cast. Since when are Egyptians not white? All I know are.
10 Jan Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.
14 Jan Certainly did not mean all Muslims responsible for Paris attack. But Muslim community must debate and confront extremism.
24 Jan Much fuss and publicity in UK as horrible elites yak on about Page 3. Worry not, The Sun will always have great looking women - and men!
26 Jan Po
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