In an inadvertent blasphemy this morning, a BBC news anchor described the leadership of the Murdoch empire as “The father, son, and Rebekah Brooks”. The unholy trinity has been broken now it seems.
I am not surprised that Brooks resigned, but I am surprised she went today. This morning the Guardian was forced to apologise for saying that the Sun had gained illegal access to medical records. There was a chance then to make it look as if all the allegations relating to Murdoch’s other UK titles, the Sun, Times, and Sunday Times, were nothing but the personal vitriol of failed PM Gordon Brown, and that therefore the problem was confined to – and died with – the News Of The World.
Today would have been the day to fight back, but instead she surrenders. It leads one to speculate that scapegoating the NOTW is a tactic they know is going to fail, that it will soon become obvious that the rot spreads further through News International.
And into its parent News Corp, owner of Fox and Dow Jones? What we need to know now is whether her journalistic methods were condoned by the father himself – and it’s hard to imagine it being otherwise. Even if he somehow managed to remain carefully uninformed about the details of practices at News International, it beggars belief to think that someone with his experience couldn’t tell.
It will be made out that he was too busy with his American and other enterprises to pay any real attention to his UK holdings. But just as questions of illegal actions by other UK Murdoch titles make it look like Brooks was the rogue element, comparable practices in the US or Australia would make it inescapable that Murdoch himself is the common factor.
We await the conclusions of the FBI with interest.
3 replies on “Rebekah Gone. Rupert Going?”
I still believe that people who are describing the events as the fall of Murdoch’s empire are naive or, ironically, exaggerating in order to sell news. Murdoch has money and as long as he keeps an audience the money will continue to flow. NotW is not enough; people being arrested is not enough. You need to see boycotts of multiple news outlets in order to consider the fall of the empire via financial failure.
Large swaths of NewsCorp’s managerial class can be taken to court without it affecting the corporation’s operations. Besides, we know what happens when a corporation this big screws up this badly. At most some people go to jail and the corporation pays a fine. Maybe a big fine. In the UK at present Murdoch’s biggest face-off is in Parliament, not the courts. Maybe the FBI does something better, but I’m not holding my breath. Maybe, maybe UK pols grown a backbone and treat News International differently from now on. But on the whole I don’t expect a sea change to happen.
Happy to be wrong.
Boo! We demand more optimism!
OK these events hardly look like bringing down, or even noticeably denting the vast income of, News Corporation, But what they might just do is crack Murdoch’s image of being untouchable, someone that even Prime Ministers had to flatter and please. He may not be pushed off his throne, but he may be prised off other people’s.
Well, I heard of one possibility which may warrant optimism. If the problem extends to the US and hurts revenue the 60% or so of shareholders who own NewsCorp shares may finally align themselves against the Murdoch family and install a new CEO. That would be almost as awesome as James Murdoch sitting on the dock. A new CEO may not be enough to fix Fox News (Roger Ailes is worse than Murdoch), but it may bring some corrective forces into other, less hopeless companies.