Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Phone hacking: Rupert Murdoch tells MPs that he is 'ashamed' by phone hacking scandal, but his body language betrays fear of being in spotlight

Dear All

Do you remember when the bankers appeared before MPs?

They put on a public sack cloth and ashes performance about being ‘deeply sorry’.

One after another like a ritual they each said sorry.

Now, today we have another performance this time it is the turn of the Murdoch Empire.

Rupert Murdoch has said he was "appalled and ashamed" to learn that the phone of Milly Dowler had been hacked by the News of the World.

He also told MPs he was not aware hacking was more widespread than originally claimed.

And he said he had "clearly" been misled by some of his staff.

Rupert Murdoch said his appearance was the "most humble day of my life".

Sack cloth and ashes.

He has also seen the family of Milly Dowler because in media terms it is important to touch all the bases.

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

An example of when it doesn’t is Gordon Brown and Gillian Duffy when he wanted a ‘kiss and make up’ media event after calling her a ‘bigot’.

She refused to do the staged managed event, rightly in my opinion.

Ruper t Murdoch is making his first appearance facingdirect scrutiny by MPs during his 40-year media UK career.

His son James also apologised to victims, saying he had great regrets.

In trying to distance himself, Murdoch said that the News of the World was "just 1%" of his worldwide business and that he employed "people I trust to run these divisions".

Rupert Murdoch and his son are taking a calculated gamble by appearing as they see this as a chance to create distance for them and gain closure for their empire.

So, we have James Murdoch, chairman of News International, saying the firm failed to live up to "the standards they aspired to" and was "determined to put things right and make sure they do not happen again".

In other words they don’t intend to step down.

He added:

"I would like to say just how sorry I am and how sorry we are to particularly the victims of illegal voicemail interceptions and to their families."

The Murdochs initially declined to appear before the committee but changed their minds after they were issued with a summons to attend.

If they didn’t appear they could have been in serious trouble.

At present the scandal isn’t going away, Murdoch and his advisors haven’t created a suitable narrative that is getting MPs and the public on side.

Their only option is gaining time; they want to create enough time to allow the media, public and parliament to move onto other issues that gets them off the radar.

And although they are before the Media Committee, the Tory chairman John Whittingdale is friendly with people he is investigating.

He is friends with Rebekah Brooks.

This conflict of interest should have seen him remove himself from the proceedings and he didn’t.

We will see a show for the public but don’t expect anything in the form of new evidence, the Murdoch’s maybe before the committee but their prepared line is that they know nothing.

And the blame lies with other people.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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