Rupert Murdoch

John Gapper

The Rupert Murdoch on the witness stand for day two of his evidence to the Leveson inquiry was less impressive than the Murdoch of day one.

After his halting testimony to a House of Commons last July, he was refreshingly on form on Wednesday – coming out punching with a display of crisp, sharp replies, even if quite a few were implausible (as I discussed in my column).

Matthew Engel summarised his performance nicely in the FT:

Ga-ga? Rupert? Eyes bright, sharp as a tack – and in control of the situation. “I hope I’m like that at 81,” said a young man in the public gallery. Normally a barrister on his feet cuts an intimidatory figure when cross-examining a seated witness. This time Mr Jay looked like a supplicant backing away from the boss’s desk.

But Mr Murdoch sounded slower and more tired on Thursday, hesitating longer over his replies and sometimes rambling. His reply to a question about his suggestions for media regulation went on a long time and had various digressions. Read more

Andrew Hill

Warren Buffett’s early stage prostate cancer is so commonplace and treatable that you might legitimately ask whether it was worth declaring. But there is no question that it was better for Berkshire Hathaway’s chairman to make his statement than to conceal the condition.

While there are good reasons to respect the privacy of patients, Apple’s failure to detail Steve Jobs’ condition during his leave of absence for health reasons in 2009 spread unnecessary uncertainty about the future of the company and its succession planning.

If Mr Buffett had any doubts about whether to make his statement, he could have asked a fellow senior citizen: Rupert Murdoch. Read more

By Ben Fenton

In an extended Vanity Fair piece that people who know the Murdoch family say is “horrifying in its level of detail” and “strikingly accurate in most respects”, Sarah Ellison has laid out how the phone hacking scandal at one of News Corp’s UK newspapers derailed dynastic plans for the media group.

One element of a long history – the claim that the four eldest Murdoch siblings had discussed the “succession” to their father as chairman and CEO with a “family counsellor” or psychologist – stood out, both for being hard to picture and for what it says about how little other shareholders views appear to enter into the Murdoch family considerations on succession planning. (Rupert Murdoch and the elder four of his six children control 38 per cent of voting shares, but own only 12 per cent of the total equity). Read more

Andrew Hill

At July’s parliamentary hearings into phone-hacking at the News of the World, Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders wound up his line of questioning by asking James Murdoch if he was “familiar with the term ‘wilful blindness’”.

Mr Murdoch, now deputy chief operating officer at News Corp and head of its international business, asked Mr Sanders to elaborate, which he did:

It is a term that came up in the Enron scandal. Wilful blindness is a legal term. It states that if there is knowledge that you could have had and should have had, but chose not to have, you are still responsible.

 Read more

John Gapper

The Murdoch phone hacking affair has made me reflect further on how powerful people who may have broken the law get treated in various jurisdictions – and revisit the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

I wrote a column in the FT earlier this month defending the treatment of Mr Strauss-Kahn (or DSK, as he is known) at the hands of the New York judicial system. I argued that the police and prosecutors had acted correctly in arresting him promptly on charges of sexual assault, and later disclosing weakness in the evidence.

That did not go down very well with a lot of readers – here is a letter criticising my piece that was printed in the FT. However, I think that the Murdoch affair, and the collusion it has revealed among British politicians, media figures and the police make the New York authorities look even better by comparison. Read more

Andrew Hill

Plenty of critics will say that Rupert Murdoch’s full-page apology for the “serious wrongdoing” caused by the News of the World in the British phone-hacking scandal comes too late. Likewise, the resignation on Friday of former editor Rebekah Brooks as chief executive of News International, News Corp’s UK subsidiary, looks tardy.

But News Corp should be more concerned about whether the 6m readers of the UK papers where Mr Murdoch’s letter will appear can trust the sender, given the winding route he took before delivering it. Read more

Andrew Hill

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat” (Sun Tzu)

News Corporation’s withdrawal of its bid for British Sky Broadcasting is the latest in a series of increasingly desperate tactical moves by Rupert Murdoch and his chieftains to limit the consequences of the UK phone-hacking scandalRead more

John Gapper

The News International scandal, which today led Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, to refer Rupert Murdoch’s bid to acquire complete control of British Sky Broadcasting, throws the entire shape of his UK operations into doubt.

Might the ultimate effect be that News Corporation disposes of its troublesome UK print operations to focus on its far bigger and more profitable entertainment assets in the US and elsewhere in the world?

That possibility, raised by Andrew Hill last week, would have seemed implausible even a week ago. Rupert Murdoch is an inky-fingered newspaperman who loves papers of every stripe and infuriated investors by paying $5bn for Dow Jones four years ago. Events are, however, moving very fast. Read more