News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch followed son James in front of the Leveson Inquiry Wednesday. Thursday morning he’ll do it all over again.
He gave nothing. In the face of what every reasonable person might understand to be true, he held his ground. He was the ordinary and down-to-earth guy, whereas his Leveson inquiry antagonists were just this side of wild conspiracists. He was Hyman Roth in the Godfather: just "a retired investor living on a pension".The inquiry’s lead counsel, Robert Jay, who has been a masterful interrogator of the many witnesses who have come before, was reduced to demanding Murdoch confess to being … well, Murdoch. Isn’t it true Mr Murdoch, Jay in effect found himself insisting, that you are a corrupt manipulator of the system?
KRM: “Well, put it this way: I go to election every year, Mr Jay, every day. People can stop buying my newspapers any time. Often do, I’m afraid. And it is only natural for politicians to reach out to editors and sometimes proprietors, if they’re available, to explain what they’re doing and hoping that it makes an impression and it gets through …
The Murdochs aren’t the only ones with instant access to mass distribution, something Rupert might want to keep in mind when he gives his version of events. Take this comment about Sir Harold Evans:
KRM: “I only remember ever talking to Mr Evans about policy once, when he came to me, shut the door behind him and said, ‘Look, tell me what you want to say — what do you want me to say, and it needn’t leave this room, but I will do it’, and I said to him, ‘Harry, that is not my job. All I would say to you’, and this is the nearest thing I ever came to an instruction, was “please be consistent. Don’t change sides day by day.”
Evans is not only the former editor of The Sunday Times — he’s the husband of The Newsweek/Daily Beast ’s Tina Brown and he had an instant outlet for his indignant response..
There is a pattern to the Murdoch sagas. He responds to serious criticism by a biting wisecrack or diversionary personal attack. What is denied most sharply invariably turns out to irrefutably true.
Rupert Murdoch was overheard at the break protesting the possibility of stretching into a second day:
Rupert to advisers in courtroom: "Let’s get him to get this fucking thing over with today".Dan Sabbagh
Splitting between days should be better for him; he was getting tired and a bit less sharp. Wednesday was nearly all BSkyB and politicians. Thursday, probably more of that given claims that he wasn’t telling the truth:
But the main dish likely will be phone hacking. Thursday’s hearing starts at 10 am in London and is expected to last 2-3 hours. It will be live streamed.