Fox News Channel
James and Rupert Murdoch made their much-anticipated appearance in front of a Parliamentary committee in London today to answer questions in connection with the News Corp phone-hacking scandal.The hearings took up the better part of six hours.
The moment that will likely make all the newscasts is Rupert being attacked by a man bearing a plate of shaving cream and wife Wendi leaping (literally) to his defence.
As it happens that occurred near the end of their appearance. Here’s the highlights of what happened before that.
Rupert Murdoch may or may not be a doddering old man who has no idea what’s going on in his own company:
Rupert rarely does public interviews so it was a bit of a shock to witness his slow, short, frequently mumbling answers. Was this intentional? A way to deflect the tougher questions? Not clear.
Rupe’s entire defence – always punctuated by his banging the table with his fist — was that he was unaware of what was happening, that he was uniformed by those he trusted most (Les Hinton‘s name came up a number of times), and that NOTW only makes up 1% of the company and therefore didn’t get much of his attention.
When Rupe did interrupt son James to answer questions his answers were frequently preceded by long, painful silences, and were always short. If the News Corp board is indeed worried about Rupert’s ability to run the company this appearance can’t have been very encouraging.
That said, he is not resigning. Period. “I am the best person to clean this up.”
James’ demeanor, meanwhile, could not have been more at odds with his father’s. Much of the hearing felt like an unedited version of a Shakespeare play so fundamentally different were father and son’s approach to questioning. For the entirety of the hearing James was the picture of corporate speak. Calm and long-winded without actually saying much.
What they did admit: Was that News Corp (to their great shock) had continued to pay the legal expenses of Glen Mulcaire, the private detective hired by the News of the World to illegally hack the phones of individuals. James says this will be stopped. The NYT’s Don Van Natta noted on Twitter that “Mulcaire has been silent for 4 .5 yrs. He is a defendant in 37 claims. Of course News Int is paying his legal fees.”
Additionally: The Murdoch’s also professed ignorance to the amount of the payoffs dispensed in out of court settlements with phone-hacking victims, which is rather incredulous considering some of those payoffs were in the millions.
Jame’s main defence throughout, and one that he returned to again and again, was that in 2007 when News Corp last dealt with these phone-hacking allegations and assured Parliament they had been dealt with they were relying on the information and assurances provided by police and outside distinguished legal counsel. This is key because Scotland Yard has also been rocked by this scandal and claims they were too cozy with News Corp.
They have seen no evidence that the phones of 9/11 victims were hacked. Both Murdochs were emphatic about this (perhaps aware it would be the dangerous tipping point in American coverage of this scandal). Rupert especially seemed to perk up during his answer to this question.
Rebekah Brooks also denied knowing about the hacking. Brooks said she was aware that NOTW had hired private detectives but that she had never met Glen Mulcaire. Moreover, she added her apologies to those of the Murdochs and said “the fact Milly Dowler’s phone was accessed by someone at NOTW is abhorrent to me.”
She also denied having anything to do with Andy Coulson being hired by David Cameron.
So where are we at the end of all this? Essentially no closer to knowing who knew what about who was doing what. But the lack of professed knowledge has to worrisome to shareholders and may come back to haunt News Corp if they make another bid for BSkyB.
Meanwhile, the brunt of the attention seems to have shifted to David Cameron for the time being.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.