Pie Attack on Rupert Murdoch is Highlight of Commons Hearing on News of the World Phone-Hacking

So here’s the moment that Rupert Murdoch was attacked with a pie (a plate of shaving foam) during his appearance at the House of Commons Culture Select Committee today, with his son James (photo via Twitter — click to enlarge). It was, to my mind, the only exciting moment in a frustrating day in which the elder Murdoch, who is now 80 years old, began by appearing — or genuinely being — bewildered, and out of touch with the running of his vast media empire, while, throughout, his son James appeared thoroughly cold and unmoved, even when apologizing for the activities of the News of the World‘s phone-hackers.

I have no idea whether Rupert Murdoch’s confused state was genuine or feigned, although it was noticeable that he gained composure as the hearing wore on, and began showing signs of his evident charisma. In the beginning, however, he either honestly confessed that he wasn’t really on top of the activities of his organization, or he produced a winning theatrical performance.

His blurted apology early on, interrupting his son to say, “This is the most humble day of my life,” was obviously aimed at the headlines, but it was horribly clumsy. As the Guardian‘s Julian Glover asked on Twitter, “Can someone who’s worked with Rupert in private tell us if he is always like this? Or is it just for special moments of public catastrophe?” Glover’s colleague Dan Sabbagh asked whether it would backfire on Murdoch Sr. when it came to the opinions of shareholders (in America in particular) about his ability to remain in charge of his company. “The great old man of newspapers looked hopelessly out of touch,” he said. “Who knows what a News Corp[oration] shareholder would have thought?” Read the rest of this entry »

News of the World Whistleblower Sean Hoare, Who Exposed Andy Coulson’s Knowledge of Phone-Hacking, Is Found Dead

It was odd, yesterday evening, to be watching the former News of the World journalist Sean Hoare discussing the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal in the BBC Panorama programme, “Murdoch: Breaking the Spell?,” on the day that he was found dead at his home in Watford. He was 47 years old.

The footage was from a programme first broadcast in March, “Tabloid Hacks Exposed,” and Sean Hoare, the News of the World‘s former showbusiness correspondent, was a hugely important presence in the programme, as it was he who had first spoken out about the “endemic” culture of phone-hacking at the News of the World for a New York Times investigation last September, when he had also stated that Andy Coulson, who, at the time, was David Cameron’s Director of Communications, had been deeply involved in phone-hacking, even though he was on record as claiming that he knew nothing about it.

The New York Times stated that Hoare, “a former reporter and onetime close friend of Coulson’s,” said that he had discussed hacking with Coulson:

The two men first worked together at the Sun, where, Hoare said, he played tape recordings of hacked messages for Coulson. At News of the World, Hoare said he continued to inform Coulson of his pursuits. Coulson “actively encouraged me to do it,” Hoare said. Read the rest of this entry »

Waiting for the Fall of David Cameron

As the heads continue to roll in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal — with Rebekah Brooks (the CEO of News International) and Les Hinton (the CEO of Dow Jones) both resigning from Murdoch’s fast-crumbling media empire, and Sir Paul Stephenson and his deputy John Yates from the embattled Metropolitan Police, just one of the three parties deeply implicated in this affair — the government itself — has so far refused to accept the implications of its deep involvement in the crooked behaviour of the News of the World and its parent company, News International.

This is all the more remarkable given David Cameron’s close relationship with not one but two editors of the News of the World, who were both in charge when the worst of the hacking took place — Rebekah Brooks, married to his close friend, the racehorse trainer (and former Etonian) Charlie Brooks, and Andy Coulson, who, of course, was the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications until January this year, Both Coulson and Brooks have, of course, spent time in police custody in the last week and a half.

In his desire not to be contaminated by his connections, David Cameron has been resorting to increasingly desperate behaviour, publicly abandoning Coulson, and generally denouncing the whole of Murdoch’s media empire as though he had not employed Coulson, and had not been close friends with Brooks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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