The Murdoch Show – A Review

Banana cream pie.
Critical Notice

The end of an extraordinary day, says the TV man. Did anyone else think so? To me it seemed a let-down; predictable, unchallenging, frequently tedious.

What we were watching was, as reader jonolan put it, theatre. And not even good theatre, unless you count the intervention by the pieman – that at least was unpredictable. Otherwise its sole moment of flair was Assistant Commissioner John Yates’ surrealistic claim to be a postbox.

The prince came across more like a villain, and it was the king who vacillated. He wanted to apologise as profusely and humbly as possible – yet he wouldn’t accept the blame. Such inconsistency in a character strains credulity.

The best you can say for the production is that it was well rehearsed. The Murdochs delivered their lines effectively enough: News Corp is a highly ethical organisation, the News Of The World a completely inexplicable and isolated aberration. It was at least a daring conceit. And memorable – though mainly because they kept saying it at every opportunity.

Then in the last act a whole new theme was introduced. The News Of The World was revealed by Rebekah Brooks to be a crusading journal, focused only on protecting children and the rights of soldiers, a paragon of what newspapers should be. But the transformation hadn’t been justified by anything that had gone before, so it lacked conviction.

That’s what this show needs more of. Conviction. Preferably several.

Let Watson At Him, Dammit!

They’re not letting Tom Watson at him again. He was the only one who managed to put pressure on the Murdochs. Now they’re being let do their prepared statement stuff once more. It’s nearly a free commercial for them.

Funny – Murdoch seemed to really perk up after the attack. I guess the adrenalin did him the power of good.

That Pie In Full

Who owns this? No idea

First LulzSec last night, now a comedian attacking an old man with a pie, making the Murdochs at least 10% more sympathetic. Anarchists not helping.

Though James did help undo it a little with “The terrible, terrible incidence of voicemail interception around… whatshername.”

Nicola Blackwood is fairly impressive, but her cuteness makes me feel like we’re only looking at her larval stage.

That Pie In Full

Who owns this? No idea

First LulzSec last night, now a comedian attacking an old man with a pie, making the Murdochs at least 10% more sympathetic. Anarchists not helping.

Though James did help undo it a little with “The terrible, terrible incidence of voicemail interception around… whatshername.”

Nicola Blackwood is fairly impressive, but her cuteness makes me feel like we’re only looking at her larval stage.

Murdochs – 1, Bunch of MPs – 0

Well, play suspended. Wonder what the member of the audience hoped to achieve there.

Then, I wonder what anyone was trying to achieve. The committee investigation was too unfocused to do anything of much use. They kept slipping and allowing the Murdochs to reiterate their “We’re sorry, we’re nice really, forgive us” message. Rupert even buttered them up by suggesting that MPs should be paid a million each. Now he’s getting to tell them some of his life story.

I don’t believe they didn’t know perfectly well that some of their papers used illegal techniques to get stories – even if they managed to remain carefully uninformed about who and where and when. But they’ve managed to say the opposite so many times, it’s bound to influence perception. Really, the MPs let them use this as a press conference.

Trying To Split The Murdochs

But perhaps the weak questioning is a clever tactic. Once he’s off the back foot and feeling confident again, James Murdoch sounds like a supervillain.

Now the questioner is thanking Rupert for being more helpful than James, which is surely going to make Rupert less helpful again. But it does appear that Rupert knows quite a deal about the workings of News International, making it seem like his vagueness on detail earlier was really reticence.

But now James has the helm again, and has another opening to explain how sorry they are, and how nice they will be to their former employees who didn’t get caught.

Hmm. They’ve actually gotten a commitment out of Rupert to cease paying the legal fees of Mulcaire (the investigator they paid to hack) – if they’re not obliged to do so by contract. It will be interesting to see where that goes.

Murdoch’s Evidence – 2

Rupert Murdoch - World Economic Forum Annual M...
Murdoch when he still looked in control

James Murdoch apologises. He’s not addressing the committee, he’s addressing the shareholders.

“This is the most humble day of my life” – Rupert Murdoch. Yes, but what’s the scale?

By saying he cannot say who was involved in the phone hacking because of ongoing investigations, James Murdoch seems to implicate Rebekah Brooks.

Monosyllabic answers from Murdoch Senior. He denies knowing who lied to him. This may still be true if no one lied to him. But he is denying any knowledge of anything awkward in his UK operation – indeed, virtually any knowledge of how News International was run. Either you don’t believe that – and it is hard to believe – or you have to accept that the guy in charge is no longer really in control.

I can actually hear News Corporation’s share price falling.