Instant View: Rupert and James face UK Parliamentary Select Committee
Frank Manning gives us his impressions of the Select Committee hearings from which Rupert and James Murdoch have just emerged.
All of Westminster, if not the country, had been waiting for this. Ever since it was announced that Rupert and James Murdoch were to be questioned by the select committee, the anticipation had been building.
These are two of the most powerful men in the world, employing over 53,000 people and owning huge swaths of international media. They were not going to go down without a fight (especially Rupert’s wife Wendi), and billions of dollars can buy a lot of pre-interview coaching.
So what followed was a peculiar spectacle, punctuated by an idiotic 'UKUncut' supporter lunging for Murdoch and getting summarily beaten down by the quick reactions of Wendi Deng.
Rupert Murdoch has often been portrayed as a cartoon villain in the eyes of his rivals and detractors, so the sight of him looking frail and struggling to understand the questioning was truly shocking. Those expecting the two of them to stride in and bring down the government, parliament or the police were disappointed. Contrite and apologetic was the primary tone, while refusing to take full responsibility for the various allegations which have been levied at News International.
James Murdoch showed himself to be a knowledgeable operator, but his position is still volatile. Rupert fought hard to install him into his position as CEO, ignoring accusations of nepotism from shareholders. His talent may not be enough to save him from detractors in News Corp who could demand a new CEO untainted by the fiasco.
The reaction from the British public is not the priority for Rupert and James Murdoch though. News International’s remaining publications look relatively safe for now and the inevitable launch of the Sun on Sunday will come when the news cycle has moved on.
But as they said themselves, the News of the World was less than one percent of News Corp. The response from America will determine the future of the company as a whole. Rupert started off slowly, but he showed over the course of the questioning he is not a spent force. He grew into himself and chose his moments wisely to attack his rivals and enemies, showing himself to be a savvy tactician.
News Corp will continue to be a force in international media; in fact the share price has risen all day despite the seriousness of the Select Committee.
The real losers today are ‘Jonnie Marbles’ and the left-wing media. His actions in attacking Rupert with a 'shaving foam pie' will attract sympathy for the Murdochs while moving the focus away from the actions of News International. His girlfriend has now even broken up with him via Twitter. How embarrassing.
Dumped by his girlfriend, a night in a prison cell and the entire world thinking you are a complete prat. And people thought Rupert Murdoch was going to have a bad day…
Frank Manning is a Researcher for the civil liberties pressure group, 'Big Brother Watch' and writes in a personal capacity.
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