Eat humble pie, Rupert – yeah, right
I don’t normally like watching people getting picked on, yet I enjoyed every squirm of the Murdoch moguls in their testimony at the parliamentary inquiry about their involvement in the protracted phone hacking that occurred at their newspaper, News of the World.
They were prepared, for sure. They had they hired top public relations firm Edelman. No doubt they received coaching from the most experienced legal team in the world, too.
Their strategy: open with a sincere apology to the British people, including Murdoch senior saying ‘this is the most humble day of my life’. Then position Rupert as the head of a global company that has 53,000 employees and the business in question is only 1% of News International’s revenue.
How is Murdoch senior expected to know every last detail of this tiny newspaper? He oversees many issues in a working day. This story was relatively convincing, even if he sounded like a boob and a slow old man and was clearly unfit to manage a business of this scale.
James was to fill in all the detail (as best he could) and when the questions were particularly damning he would dial up the corporate jargon/management speak and bore everyone.
He prefaced many responses with the classic line, ‘that’s a good question, thanks for asking it’ which felt so inappropriate when he was being asked if the company was continuing to pay legal fees of staff who had been convicted of phone hacking or whether they continued to subsidise wages of ex-staffers now working for the UK Prime Minister.
Yet the underlying feeling I had was everything was going to be taken care of, the Murdoch’s vast legal team would sort it out – just as they had always done. The double-act was merely for show.
Murdoch and his cronies have been buying content for stories for years, printing smut that has changed lives and won elections. This hacking scandal, however, shows how low the old man and his boy are willing to go.
Murdoch senior talked about his father (Keith Murdoch) who was ‘not rich but a great journalist’. How will we remember Rupert? To me, I will remember him as a rich man but not a great bloke.