05-01-12, 02:24 PM #1
Ouch! UK Commons Committee Report Rips Rupert Murdoch
Did Somebody Say, "Ouch!"
Let's just start with the lede from Robert Hutton and Amy Thompson:
News Corp. (NWSA) Chairman Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person” to lead a major international company, U.K. lawmakers said, after his British unit misled Parliament about the extent of phone hacking at its News of the World tabloid.
I mean, really. Ouch!
That's gotta sting some.
A little more detail from the Bloomberg report:
Murdoch “turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications,” the House of Commons Culture Committee said in a report today that split lawmakers along party lines on critical findings. “This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organization and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corp.”
The report may increase the chances that U.K. regulator Ofcom deems News Corp. unfit to hold a broadcasting license and asks the company to reduce its 39 percent stake in British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc. (BSY) The phone-hacking scandal prompted News Corp. to abandon a 7.8 billion-pound ($12.6 billion) bid for the rest of BSkyB, the U.K.’s biggest pay-television provider, last year. Tim Bale, professor of politics at Sussex University, said he was surprised by the report’s strong language.
“It’s clearly not good news,” he said in a phone interview, adding that the report contained “really serious” accusations. “They clearly must have been hoping that the committee would have been more measured and more cautious.”
This is not quite unimaginable to an American perspective, but on our side of The Pond, it's all speculation about Democrats and Republicans in a question of who would be alleged to have done what.
There are partisan divisions about the CCC report. The four Conservatives on the committee voted against the conclusion that News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch is unfit to run a major corporation. MP Louise Mench (Corby) suggested that the conclusion was beyond the scope of the committee's inquiry. MP Phillip Davies (Shipley) asserted, "Rupert Murdoch clearly is a fit and proper person to run an international company." He also stated that the committee saw "absolutely no evidence to suggest that Rupert Murdoch was aware these things were going on".
From the western side of the Atlantic, this is a curious perspective. We still recall Ronald Reagan's defense in Iran-Contra that he had no clue what was going on within his administration.
Labour MP Tom Watson (West Bromwich East), to the other, stated the majority outlook quite simply. "We found News Corp. carried out an extensive cover-up of its rampant lawbreaking," he said. "The two men at the top of the company need to answer for that."
Indeed, the CCC majority doubted Murdoch's claims of ignorance: "In his testimony and also the Leveson Inquiry, Rupert Murdoch has demonstrated excellent powers of recall and grasp of detail, when it has suited him."
Ofcom, the British Office of Communications, is now reviewing whether News Corp should be allowed a broadcasting license; Sussex University professor Tim Bale, though, suggested that MPs should not be the ones "ultimately to decide whether someone is a fit and proper person, and it’s not over until the fat lady, in other words a regulator, sings".
Les Hinton, of News International, complained about the report's findings. "I have always been truthful in my dealings with the committee and its findings are unfounded, unfair and erroneous."
Colin Meyer, another NI executive, offered a response via email: "I stand by the evidence that I gave the committee."
The committee majority, quite obviously, disagreed:
The two men [Meyer and NI executive Tom Crone], summoned before the Culture Committee last September, denied having misled it in 2009. Written evidence later sent to the committee and to the Leveson Inquiry showed that both had been told of claims that hacking had been more widely practiced. Two years later, when James Murdoch accused them of keeping evidence from him, they replied that they had both known about it and showed it to him.
Hinton didn’t tell the truth about payments to Goodman and the extent of his knowledge of the voice-mail allegations, the lawmakers said today. Crone misled the panel about the significance of the first legal settlement with a victim of hacking, while he and Myler lied about their knowledge of the participation of other News of the World employees in criminal activity, according to today’s report ....
.... Parliament as a whole will be asked to vote on whether the men are guilty of contempt of the legislature. The committee chairman, John Whittingdale, said it wasn’t clear what the punishment was for this, as no one has been found guilty of it for decades. Mensch questioned whether Myler was fit for his current role, as editor of the New York Daily News.
Ouch, indeed. As this latest chapter opens, it would appear to be a painful one.
Hutton, Robert and Amy Thompson. "Rupert Murdoch Not Fit to Lead News Corp., Lawmakers Say". Bloomberg. May 1, 2012. Bloomberg.com. May 1, 2012. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-0...akers-say.html
05-01-12, 03:09 PM #2
So does this mean we can shutter Fox News and throw Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, etc. in prison now?
05-01-12, 11:33 PM #3
And in related news:
Wall Street Journal remains No. 1 US newspaper
So clearly that UK report, that was produced exactly on party lines, wasn't very accurate.
05-01-12, 11:54 PM #4
Will Murdoch's hacking woes spread to his US holdings? That remains to be seen. I doubt Faux News will report this development. Even if the ditto head crowd should become aware of the development, they will ignore it. The ditto head crowd has been well immunized and insulated for things like reality. They will do as you have done, just tag the development/fact with the partisan/liberal label and ignore it.
Last edited by joepistole; 05-02-12 at 12:22 AM.
05-02-12, 12:38 AM #5
Clearly he knows how to run an international company.
The report was totally political.
05-02-12, 01:11 AM #6
Last edited by joepistole; 05-02-12 at 08:00 AM.
05-02-12, 01:31 AM #7
It's funny, there is partisan politics going on but it's right in this thread by authur, I had a bet with a friend about how long it would take him to come here and defend murdoch's appalling actions
05-02-12, 02:29 AM #8
That you find with his actions and his company's actions that he knows how to run an international company says a lot. A person who knows how to run an international company would not either sign off on or ignore all evidence of illegal wire tapping and attempts to corrupt police.
05-02-12, 05:01 PM #9
It's pretty bizarre that you'd present a politicized media empire - as salient an instance of the Fourth Estate as there has ever been - as some kind of apolitical business issue.
05-06-12, 02:44 PM #10
Capability and MoralityAdoucette: Clearly he knows how to run an international company.
Asguard: It's funny, there is partisan politics going on but it's right in this thread by authur, I had a bet with a friend about how long it would take him to come here and defend murdoch's appalling actions
What is striking, in an American context, about the CCC report is the psychomoral aspect. To wit, Adoucette is correct that Murdoch knows how to run an international company, but that is beside the point.
What the CCC seems to be asserting is that the man is morally unfit to run a company.
The problem is that if we take Rupert and James Murdoch at their word, it's kind of like the Reagan presidency and Iran-Contra. Their best defense is that they have absolutely no clue what's going on. In James Murdoch's case, the evidence shows that to be untrue. And as the report noted, "In his testimony and also the Leveson Inquiry, Rupert Murdoch has demonstrated excellent powers of recall and grasp of detail, when it has suited him."
We see this sort of thing all the time in lesser issues; one has very acute recall when the point speaks to their favor, but suddenly becomes fuzzy or even blank when the point speaks against them. To a certain degree, this is explainable by even basic psychology; one needs no complicated, specialized, doctorate-level consideration to understand how ego defense affects recall.
But this is really big. This is huge. By any sense of morality that is not inherently antisocial, what News Corp has done is immoral. Murdoch's company appears to have affected governance in the UK; the scandal has demonstrably affected enforcement of laws. One of the key figures in News International's role is now the editor of an American newspaper, the New York Daily News; the scandal has the potential to be international.
That Murdoch knows how to build and operate a financially successful business is obvious. But the impact of his way of doing that is the salient question.
For Americans, as strange as it may sound to our international neighbors, the moral judgment of the report is peculiar. True, members of Congress make absurd moral arguments on the floor of our legislative chambers, but if the Democrats came down on Apple or Nike for its immorality with such language, there would automatically be a nearly even divide in public polling, with Democratic supporters agreeing and Republican supporters blasting the Communist-Nazi usurpation of the private market.
We see part of that in Erik Tarloff's examination of the scandal for The Atlantic:
It's certainly possible I'm missing something significant, being thousands of miles distant from the scene of the action, but this seems to me, from a purely political point of view, a very foolish position for the senior governing party in Parliament to take. Among other enormities, Mr. Murdoch has been accused of wielding excessive and unhealthy influence over the country's politics, and of course its politicians. And while the opposition has hardly been untainted by Murdoch's poisonous tendrils, the salient example of such a connection with Labour occurred two leaderships ago. On the other hand, his cozy relationship with the Tory government, and his warm friendship with its leader, Prime Minister David Cameron, is taking place in the present tense and has been much remarked upon. Visits to Number Ten through the backdoor, undisclosed meetings at home and abroad, all while pressing the government for favors and special dispensation...at the very least, these look less than kosher. And the odds are they're as bad as they look.
Under such circumstances, one would expect the Tories on the Parliamentary committee to have put as much distance between their party and Mr. Murdoch as possible, and to be, among all the participants, the most vociferous in condemning his abhorrent practices. It's hard to know what caused them to hold back, to protest that the report's language was unduly harsh. Loyalty to a benefactor would seem to be the least likely explanation. A famous axiom variously ascribed to Benjamin Disraeli, Herbert Asquith, and Winston Churchill, avers that "a prime minister must be a good butcher." If ever there was a time for butchery—or at least radical surgery—surely it's now. The Tories are in enough trouble already; one would think, insofar as they're able to dislodge this particular lodestone from around their necks, they might attempt to do so with as much vigor as they can muster.
But also in the article is a consideration of morality:
Mr. Murdoch's papers have been a malign influence on Great Britain for at least a generation. They have ended careers, marriages, and even lives. They have gleefully exposed individuals to public ridicule. They have outed closeted gay politicians and entertainers, exposed adulterers, revealed details about unruly sex lives and drug abuse. If one reads Piers Morgan's memoirs, which are as disconcertingly entertaining as they are shameful, it's clear that this was always the point of the exercise, this was Mr. Murdoch's notion of what journalism is. All unpleasant enough, one would think, to make the man responsible something of a pariah in respectable circles.
But in addition, Mr. Murdoch's minions have also committed actual crimes. They engaged in something akin to blackmail—threatening vendettas against politicians who opposed them, for example, and frequently making good on those threats—along with bribery and rampant invasions of privacy. (In their testimony before the Parliamentary committee and the Leveson Commission, they undoubtedly added perjury to the list, even if it will never be proved in a court of law.) Although these practices may not have been publicly acknowledged, they could not have been entirely unknown in Fleet Street circles, or in Whitehall, let alone in Scotland Yard. And yet, through a combination of fear and avarice, no one sought to curtail these activities, let alone make them public.
No, what finally brought the whole corrupt system to a grinding halt was this: The News of the World hacked into the cell phone of a murdered teenage girl, Milly Dowler. And they compounded the heinousness of the act by erasing some of the messages in her voice mail in order to make room for more messages, misleading her parents into thinking she might still be alive.
Tarloff concludes harshly: "... is there any question whether he's a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company? He's barely fit to be considered a person."
And while it is true that people often question Adoucette's apparent contextual shifts, this one does make a certain amount of sense from an American perspective. Morality is the shape of an arrowhead meant to be launched at a political opponent. Bawdy lusts are immoral, but the inherent corruption of society suggested by Marx of capitalism is off-limits. Apple, for instance, has emerged from a labor-related scandal in better shape than it should have because a performance artist forgot to take off his performance artist hat and put on an objective journalist hat during an interview with a public radio program.
Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher reported earlier this year on an encounter between the late Steve Jobs and President Obama in Feburary, 2011:
But as Steven P. Jobs of Apple spoke, President Obama interrupted with an inquiry of his own: what would it take to make iPhones in the United States? ....
.... Mr. Jobs's reply was unambiguous. "Those jobs aren't coming back," he said, according to another dinner guest.
The president's question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn't just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple's executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that "Made in the U.S.A." is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.
And as much as our politicians fight over unions and wages and benefits, the reality is that what is good for business is not always good for society:
Apple executives say that going overseas, at this point, is their only option. One former executive described how the company relied upon a Chinese factory to revamp iPhone manufacturing just weeks before the device was due on shelves. Apple had redesigned the iPhone's screen at the last minute, forcing an assembly line overhaul. New screens began arriving at the plant near midnight.
A foreman immediately roused 8,000 workers inside the company's dormitories, according to the executive. Each employee was given a biscuit and a cup of tea, guided to a workstation and within half an hour started a 12-hour shift fitting glass screens into beveled frames. Within 96 hours, the plant was producing over 10,000 iPhones a day.
"The speed and flexibility is breathtaking," the executive said. "There's no American plant that can match that."
One cannot treat American workers that way. In the first place, company dormitories? One might think of the nineteenth century in the U.S., and perhaps invoke the words, "Pullman, Illinois". Or 1946, when Merle Travis sang, of the coal industry:
You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? Another day older, and deeper in debt. St. Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go—I owe my soul to the company store.
What takes place at some overseas factories is the sort of thing that many Americans simply don't recognize. Quite clearly, Steve Jobs knew how to run a profitable company. Tim Cook knows how to run a profitable company. But what is the moral value of that endeavor? At some point, the bending of moral principles was too great for the people of purple mountains majesty and amber waves of grain. One cannot treat American workers that way.
In the American political divide, liberals and leftists are more likely to recognize and acknowledge the immorality inherent in modern capitalism that would seem to reinforce Marx's outlook.
The difference between Apple and News Corp? Well, Apple's immorality is "acceptable", because they have hidden it away overseas. News Corp's immorality was visited directly upon the British. And say what you will about the ridiculousness of that suggestion, but in terms of a societal outlook, the difference between proximal and distal is very influential.
And that difference is constantly involving. Apple's scandal drew a notably larger public reaction than Nike's labor scandal in Vietnam fifteen years ago.
There will likely come a time in the United States—perhaps over the next ten to fifteen years—when these foreign-labor scandals aren't so easily forgotten. Certes, Apple has demanded some changes at the Foxconn facilities making their hardware, but if those changes ever achieve parity with our American moral expectations for the treatment of workers in domestic facilities, there will be no point to sending production overseas. That is, Apple has made some changes, yes, but they are hardly sufficient.
With the News Corp hacking scandal, the British are applying a sociomoral consideration that exceeds our normal American outlook. The matter of one's fitness to run a company is, in the United States, more often a question of capability than moral propriety.
I might disagree with Adoucette's response according to my interpretation, but it is hardly absurd in a broader American context.
That, of course, can say what it will about American culture, but it is true that the world would, generally, be worse off without someone playing our role. From there, the question becomes an old Sufi adage: Is the best we have the best that we can do?
Tarloff, Erik. "Of Course Rupert Murdoch Isn't Fit to Run a Company". The Atlantic. May 5, 2012. TheAtlantic.com. May 6, 2012. http://www.theatlantic.com/internati...ompany/256703/
Duhigg, Charles and Keith Bradsher. "How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work". The New York Times. January 21, 2012. NYTimes.com. May 6, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/bu...dle-class.html
Ely, Richard T. "Pullman: A Social Study". Harper's. n.70. February, 1885. Library.Cornell.edu. May 6, 2012. http://www.library.cornell.edu/Reps/DOCS/pullman.htm
Senser, Robert A. Human Rights for Workers Bulletin. v.II, n.5. April 7, 1997. Senser.com. May 6, 2012. http://www.theatlantic.com/internati...ompany/256703/
05-06-12, 05:20 PM #11
"Not even Obama denies that Secret Service agents were hiring prostitutes and bringing them within the security perimeter. Obama's excuse is he didn't know anything about it - gross incompetence. The other alternative is Obama was a participant in the activity. And Obama denies that (or would, if anyone were rude enough to ask him about his complicity). There is no in between here. It is "either/or". There is no partisanship here. There is no option 'C'."
The truth is that Obama can be in charge of the executive *without* having knowledge of every questionable decision his underlings take, and that is not always "gross incompetence". Meanwhile, my understanding is that Obama runs the executive in a "hands on" way, every day (as that is the job), whereas Murdoch was far more detached from the daily affairs of his companies.
Do we even truly want Murdoch to be involved in the direct management of newspapers? As biased as they are, I imagine they'd only be moreso if he were truly at he helm.
05-06-12, 05:32 PM #12
It's a bit more like Iran-ContraOriginally Posted by Cavalier
If one's company is busted and negotiates a legal settlement for the victims of illegal activity, that's sort of a thing the people in charge are expected to be aware of.
In that sense, James Murdoch's excuse is incompetence: He never read the email from newspaper managers explaining the problem and legal settlement.
Rupert's excuse? Well, certes he was further removed from that settlement than his son, but the CCC report suggests that the senior Murdoch "demonstrated excellent powers of recall and grasp of detail" at the Levenson inquiry, "when it has suited him".
The idea that Rupert Murdoch had no idea is within the range of believability, except, of course, for the problem of the News Corp chief's own credibility problem.
Take the GSA scandal, then, as a counterpoint. The Obama administration became aware of potential problems within the agency, launched an investigation, and now some of the people responsible are taking the Fifth before Congress.
If this scandal had broken and the administration's response was, "We had no idea what was going on within our own administration"—much akin to Ronald Reagan's excuse for violations of law involving the illegal sales of weapons to Iran, and the drug-distribution operation that funded the project—then there would likely be greater questions about Obama's competence and moral character.
05-06-12, 09:29 PM #13
Additionally, the MP's found:
"Rupert Murdoch "is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company", MPs have said.
The cross-party culture committee questioned journalists and bosses at the now closed paper, as well as police and lawyers for hacking victims.
It concluded that Mr Murdoch exhibited "willful blindness" to what was going on in his media empire.
And it said the News of the World and News International misled Parliament about the scale of phone hacking." - BBC
You cannot say that President Obama was willfully blind to the acts of some members of the Secret Service. As soon as Obama was made aware of the misbehavior, he took immediate action to remediate the problem.
Being in corporate life most of my career, I find it difficult to believe that a scandal of this magnitude could occur with a competent management team at the helm. This scheme involved money, the payment of bribes, illegal activities and legal settlements. In a competent organization, this stuff would be made known to senior management in very quick order.
05-06-12, 10:25 PM #14
Tiassa in the US the dollar may outrule the law but in commonwealth countries we try to limit these abuses, bribing police officers is a MAJOR crime and I can't even BEGIN to describe how many basic moral rules let alone actual laws are breached by a company paying someone to hack into the phone of a murder victim, copy her messages and then wipe them before the POLICE investigating her murder had a chance to even hear them. Seriously how can ANYONE defend that? It's just beyond imagining, it's the sort of thing which only happens in crazy conspiracy movies and because murdoc washed his hands of this his companies actions are being looked at not just in the UK but here too. Is he directly responsible? Probably not but only because he was deliberately blind or incopitant, if he wasn't incopitant he would have been investigating that matter internally before this all blew up in his face and it would have been HIM who took it to the police and that's just one example
Here he's not being accused of these sorts of abuses but undue interference into the political system, as one person put it, the liberal party are the opposition NOT the Australian. He has run a BLATENT campaign against the Australian Greens which goes well beyond reporting on the news and making comments in the editorials, the whole paper has become the editorials and this is concerning a lot more than just pollies. Media watch (an ABC programme which deals with manipulation in the media) seems to deal with more than one murdoc paper every week and people are calling for ACMA to regulate newspapers the way they do TV and radio
Basically the US may believe the $ is all that matters but the rest of us live in a system of law and it looks like he is guilty for conspiracy if nothing else
05-06-12, 11:04 PM #15
He is famously quoted as saying that the 'buck stops with the one paying the cheques', and that is him.
But this went beyond a day to day level of governance.
His son knew.
In a key exchange, after Mr Murdoch stuck to his earlier stand, inquiry counsel Robert Jay said: "There are two possibilities here. Either you were told of the evidence that linked others at the News of the World to Mulcaire and this was in effect a cover up, or you weren't told and you didn't read the emails properly and there was failure of governance at the company do you accept that?"
Mr Murdoch maintained that at the time he was given "sufficient information" to settle a legal issue being discussed with senior executives, but not sufficient information "to go and turn over a whole lot of stones".
Mr Murdoch has said although he was copied into the email, he did not read it fully. He told the inquiry: "I didn't read the email chain. It was a Saturday, I had just come back from Hong Kong, I was with my children. I responded in minutes."
He said he now accepts that the 'For Neville' email was "a thread" that raised the suspicion of wider phone-hacking at the News of the World. "The fact it suggested other people might have been involved in phone hacking - that part of its importance was not imparted to me that day," he said.
Mr Murdoch added: "I was given repeated assurances newsroom had been investigated, that there was no evidence. I've been very consistent about it."
He said after he took over operations as Chairman of the News International in 2007, he thought phone-hacking was a "thing in the past".
You know, I feel sorry for James Murdoch. Because it is his head that is being placed on the block by his own father who would have known this was going on and had been going on long before he put his son in charge of the paper. This had been going on for years and years. That paper was one of his babies. The amount of time they were being dragged to the courts over allegations of phone hacking. There is no way that Rupert Murdoch did not know.
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