Rupert Murdoch: “I’m out of touch”/update 4
Posted by Charles II on July 19, 2011
Testimony to the Committee on Culture, Media, and Sport. Murdoch’s properties aren’t culture, so I guess this is either about media or sport. See Guardian for full live blog.
Not very enlightening testimony. Rupert feigns deafness, James emphasizes that hush money to victims was paid out after the criminal case had been settled and the police had limited responsibility to Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire and Co. Rupert answers a pointed question about willful blindness to say that they didn’t do any such thing. James claims not to know the limits for payouts that have to be reported higher up, or how they’re accounted for, but asserts that they comply with all tax regulations. Rupert says that payoffs to Mulcaire after conviction must have been authorized at levels higher than managing editor–either Les Hinton or chief legal officer. James denies knowing about these post-trial payouts, says he was surprised.
They’re lying, of course, but probably not in a prosecutable way, unless their firewall breaks.
So, how much were Brooks and Hinton paid on severance? Rupert says it’s confidential. James says there’s commercial confidentiality, but nothing to hinder legal inquiries.
Now we get the our lawyers lied to us defense over the discovery of a dossier of documents at their law firm. What did you do about it once you found out? Well, we passed the dossier to the police, of course (didn’t demand the firing of whoever at the law firm failed to find the documents when they should have, apparently).
Rupert: “I wasn’t kept in the dark. I may have been too lax….”
Would Murdoch, having experienced the glare of inquiry, change tactics on his tabloids? Vague response meaning no.
Some Conservatives, notably Davies and Collins, are asking good questions.
Why did employees think they could break the law? No answer, just more trite contriteness. This is really the question. Those employees had editors who would have to have known not just their sources but their methods, and those editors had managing editors who should have been curious about how their investigators got so lucky. And, most important, their lawyers would have had to have been brought in on sufficiency of sourcing.
Another talking point is grinding down Gordon Brown. Murdoch: Brown’s wife and my wife
Wendy Wendi struck up a friendship. Kids played together. Hope we can patch things up.
Whoa! Hearing interrupted as a young man reportedly lunges at Murdoch and is punched by
Wendy Murdoch Wendi Deng (Murdoch) and arrested. What irony that a hearing on Murdoch turns into a tabloid event. Wonder if they hired the lunger. Nope, UK Uncut sponsored this foam pie. Bad move, I think, but I can understand why people are frustrated with this sort of dog-and-pony show.
We are about to complete the third hour of the Murdochs’ one hour of testimony.
Final questions by Conservative Louise Mensch say, basically, everyone does phone hacking (Daily Mirror editor has even boasted about it in a book), so could that have explained why News of the World thought it could do whatever it wanted? Giving Murdoch a wonderful opening to say that even if everyone does it, he won’t put up with it. Then asked whether he thought he should resign, he says, No, the people who betrayed me should pay for it. I’m the right man to clean it up. A chilling smile. As John Dean says in post-testimony comments, these people have no remorse.
Correction: Louise Mensch has been forced to walk back, though thanks to Parliamentary privilege not actually retract, the assertion that former Mirror editor and current CNN personality Piers Morgan had confessed to phone hacking. Looks like The Guardian had the same impression of her as I did, calling her questioning “antics.”
The story the media will carry will be, as the Guardian blog makes clear in its summary, Poor Rupert Attacked!”
Coda: I couldn’t stand to watch Rebekah Brooks testify. She’s innocence itself. Louise Mensch again ran interference, dragging in Piers Anthony of CNN, who will very soon I predict find himself unemployed and the rest of the tabloids. Operation Motorman, which exposed the seamy underside of tabloid journalism and led to major reforms of British law, was all so long ago, Brooks implies. And I never knew about any private investigators except to unearth the locations of pedophiles to force the British government to pass Sarah’s Law. A worthy effort until one realizes it has had essentially no practical effects to protect children, but did serve to sell a lot of newspapers.
They are all without remorse. If they go to jail, they’ll be exclaiming over how unfair it all is.
Helene Mulholland and Matthew Taylor, The Guardian:
David Cameron’s chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, stopped Scotland Yard briefing the prime minister on the phone-hacking scandal in September 2010, a senior police officer has told a panel of MPs.
John Yates, the Met assistant commissioner who was in charge of the review of evidence into phone hacking in 2009 and who quit on Monday, told MPs that Cameron’s chief of staff told him it was not appropriate for him to brief the prime minister on the hacking investigation, adding: “And I’d be grateful if it wasn’t raised”.
One question answered: Sir Paul Stephenson, ex-Scotland Yard, said the owner of the luxury spa (Champneys) where he was given free lodging while recovering from surgery, was a family friend, and that he didn’t know that Wallis had a business relationship with Champneys until later. It’s still incomprehensible to me why he thought that a free gift of lodging amounting to thousands of dollars and paid to the top police official of Scotland Yard could not be regarded as improper.
I think the key issue is the e-mails belatedly turned over by Harbottle and Lewis, the law firm. How that happened is critical to understanding what happened. And if the lawyers find themselves under legal culpability, they will find a way to tell their side of the story.
Crossposted to FDL where, unsurprising to me, there’s no interest in it. I assume they are still trying to find novel ways to say, Obama is an a–hole, (see here for a typical example) rather than focusing on how to change the game rules under which we are forced to operate. Adding: this is not to detract from the quality of the posts generated by people like DDay, or the importance of Jane visiting congressional offices. The comment is directed toward some of the commenters, with of course many exceptions.
Update: well, smack my gob! They added a nice graphic of Rupe. I don’t know who to thank!
The transcript of the hearing is here
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