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.

Murdoch’s Apology

Here, according to sources, is the full-page advert that will be carried by all UK daily papers tomorrow.

Was the News Of The World “in the business of holding others to account”? I didn’t realise. I thought you bought it if you wanted to read about famous people having sex.

The World’s Greatest Secret

The smile that says "I still have a job"

A secret so shocking that when it’s revealed in a year from now, former staff of the News of the World will turn to Rebekah Brooks and say “Thank you for firing us.”

That’s got to be something pretty bad.

I’m actually worried here, trying to think of something worse than what the NOTW has already done. They bribed the police, for God’s sake. They spied on the grieving families of soldiers and London bombing victims. They interfered with the phone of a child murder-kidnap victim, giving her parents false reason to believe she was still alive.

But this is something they’re ashamed of.

Oh boy.

The fact that it’s not going to be revealed for another year gives it a great Seventh Secret of Fatima vibe, but why is this the case? Most likely, something they were hiding is now bound to come out in the police investigation or the trial. But if it’s bound to, why not reveal it now and end all the wild speculation? Unless of course it’s worse than our wildest speculation.

Which again, would be pretty bad.

More likely, they don’t want to reveal it now because it has a bearing on News International’s most sensitive current business in the UK – their attempted takeover of BSkyB. And as this rests wholly on the question of whether Rupert Murdoch is a fit person to own such a significant portion of the media, it follows logically that the secret is not about the News of the World or even News International, but about Murdoch himself.

What was the NOTW doing with dirt on its owner? Well in the dismissal speech she gave to the workforce, Rebekah Brooks revealed that she herself had been spied on by agents of the News of the World. Merely because she was newsworthy? Well maybe, but I have a suspicion that the operatives who were tasked with the illegal mission decided to get something on their employers too – as insurance against being disowned by them. And it seems reasonable to suppose that if they went after her, they would have gone after her boss too. Those guys got something on Rupert Murdoch.

But what? We already know that Murdoch uses his power as a wealthy media magnate to influence – arguably, to subvert – the democratic process in favour of his still greater wealth. And yet until recently it was assumed that he could still be considered a ‘fit person’ to own UK media. If that doesn’t make you unfit what do you have to do? Have sex with crocodiles, use puppies as toothpaste?

There can only be one thing. Murdoch, like many of his fellow countrymen, is instinctively opposed to the royal family. That his papers have been making them look stupid for decades was no mere commercial tactic but a determined secret campaign.

Murdoch wants a British Republic.

The World’s Greatest Secret

The smile that says "I still have a job"

A secret so shocking that when it’s revealed in a year from now, former staff of the News of the World will turn to Rebekah Brooks and say “Thank you for firing us.”

That’s got to be something pretty bad.

I’m actually worried here, trying to think of something worse than what the NOTW has already done. They bribed the police, for God’s sake. They spied on the grieving families of soldiers and London bombing victims. They interfered with the phone of a child murder-kidnap victim, giving her parents false reason to believe she was still alive.

But this is something they’re ashamed of.

Oh boy.

The fact that it’s not going to be revealed for another year gives it a great Seventh Secret of Fatima vibe, but why is this the case? Most likely, something they were hiding is now bound to come out in the police investigation or the trial. But if it’s bound to, why not reveal it now and end all the wild speculation? Unless of course it’s worse than our wildest speculation.

Which again, would be pretty bad.

More likely, they don’t want to reveal it now because it has a bearing on News International’s most sensitive current business in the UK – their attempted takeover of BSkyB. And as this rests wholly on the question of whether Rupert Murdoch is a fit person to own such a significant portion of the media, it follows logically that the secret is not about the News of the World or even News International, but about Murdoch himself.

What was the NOTW doing with dirt on its owner? Well in the dismissal speech she gave to the workforce, Rebekah Brooks revealed that she herself had been spied on by agents of the News of the World. Merely because she was newsworthy? Well maybe, but I have a suspicion that the operatives who were tasked with the illegal mission decided to get something on their employers too – as insurance against being disowned by them. And it seems reasonable to suppose that if they went after her, they would have gone after her boss too. Those guys got something on Rupert Murdoch.

But what? We already know that Murdoch uses his power as a wealthy media magnate to influence – arguably, to subvert – the democratic process in favour of his still greater wealth. And yet until recently it was assumed that he could still be considered a ‘fit person’ to own UK media. If that doesn’t make you unfit what do you have to do? Have sex with crocodiles, use puppies as toothpaste?

There can only be one thing. Murdoch, like many of his fellow countrymen, is instinctively opposed to the royal family. That his papers have been making them look stupid for decades was no mere commercial tactic but a determined secret campaign.

Murdoch wants a British Republic.