The great cliffhanger of the Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking/bribery affair is whether this time, as always in the past, the man can once more come out a winner, however tarnished. Will the revolt to dislodge his power turn out like Egypt, where Mubarak fell, or Libya, where the tyrant has turned out to be far harder to dispatch? Is Murdoch still the Great and Powerful Oz, or just the Aussie behind the curtain?
The photographs of his arrival in London on Saturday—his gnarled, thoughtful face under a Panama hat, headed to take over crisis management from his beleaguered son James (described to me by an executive who knows him well as “always decisive, often wrong”)—will have struck fear into the hearts of students of Rupert’s dark arts. They know that he has what his critics and opponents never seem to have: a ruthless focus on the endgame—in this case, full control of British Sky Broadcasting, the lucrative satellite-TV service. He has already cauterized the wounds of the News of the World debacle with an instant shutdown, nimbly positioning himself to rebrand his weekday cash cow, The Sun, as a lean, mean seven-day tab.
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