Things are not getting better for Rupert Murdock, and news corporation, despite various Damage limitation exercises, yesterday and today.
Yesterday Tom Crone legal manager of News International, ‘stepped down,’ a euphemism if ever I heard one. Sacked in the least newsworthy way possible for spectacularly failing to contain the fallout from the phone hacking scandal, would be a more accurate phrase in my opinion.
Rebekah Brooks, Rupert Murdoch and James Murdoch were also ‘invited’ to present evidence to the Home affairs select committee, on Tuesday 19th of July. To me the most extraordinary detail of this seemingly straightforward summons from a governmental body, and possibly the only good news Murdock has had this week, is that Murdock can refuse to attend if he feels like it. It is astounding that someone who has such a large investment in businesses in the United Kingdom, should just because they are not a UK citizen be able to snub parliament in such a way. And be certain select committees represent parliament. Now there’s a rule that needs tweaking if ever there was one.
Today of course Murdock has withdrawn the BskyB bid, midway through a parliamentary debate demanding he do exactly that. Which definitely seems like damage limitation, and probably also means he harbours some hope of having another go once all the fuss dies down. News Corporations troubles however at present seem to have ‘gone viral’ in modern parlance, with the Fox network difficulties being more widely reported today and the troubles for the Australian branch of Murdock’s concerns ‘News Limited’ also being reported. Senators in the US demanding inquiries into possible hacking by Murdock employees into the phones of 9-11 victims, suggests that anything associated with Murdock himself is now in the spotlight, and tarred with insensitivity by default.
To add to his troubles, Lord Justice Leveson the judge placed in charge of the phone hacking inquiry announced by David Cameron, will have powers to call media proprietors, editors and politicians to give evidence under oath. I wonder if when it convenes, since it will have more direct authority than the select committee, whether Murdock himself will be conveniently ill, or in some jurisdiction which it would be difficult to extract him.
All this and another 3% of the value of his stock.
As my number of posts on this subject suggest I am somewhat gleeful about all this. The only down side for me is the number of employees, that might be looking for other jobs, (Legal managers for instance) though I have little sympathy for the top echelons, those lower down the hierarchy might well suffer somewhat, it is after all usually the more junior members of organisations that end up as scapegoats. Whilst those who get paid ridiculous sums for holding responsibility, end up sailing through the crisis’s Scott free. I think it is probably for this reason that I am quite so chuffed that Murdock looks like he is for the high jump, or at least facing a very complicated time. I only hope that the stress is not too much for his heart, he is 80 after all.
In consolation if he does pop his clogs before he has to answer any really difficult questions, at least his last memories will have been of his empire disintegrating around him.
IT ISN’T OFTEN THAT PEOPLE TURN UP WHEN SOMEONE DIES, BUT A NUMBER OF PEOPLE SEEM TO WANT TO DISCUSS ‘VOICE MAIL MESSAGES’ WITH YOU, I HAVE NO IDEA WHY, OR EVEN WHAT A ‘VOICE MAIL MESSAGE’ IS, BUT THEY SEEM VERY INSISTENT.
A Later addition:
When I wrote this the stocks were down 3%, just watched Newsnight and they had bounced back and closed up 2%, so clearly the markets like the idea that the BSkyB bid is off.