Was Rupert Murdoch really humbled
Or knew he had at last been rumbled,
As talk-back raged and bankers grumbled
When News Corp’s share price sharply tumbled?
Poms now scorned their weekly snickers
Over stories which featured randy vicars.
Those scandals were nowhere near as big as
Hacked phones of dead children, or public figures.
So maybe a handsome apology
Was by far the better strategy,
Read as a mea culpa, an elegy
From a great man, at power’s apogée.
Regardless of the reasons why,
He’d reached the point of do or die.
Then fate, in the form of a little guy,
Stepped in, and threw at him a custard pie!
NOTE: Yesterday I thought I would enjoy watching the world wide television broadcast of Rupert Murdoch suffering the galling experience of being grilled by a British House of Commons Select Committee of Enquiry. They wanted to question him about his knowledge of the phone hacking scandal which had caused the demise of his most successful newsprint investment, the News of the World.
It was fascinating to watch this media mogul, used to setting his own agenda, try to set the tone of his appearance before a body of elected members of parliament. He was thwarted in his effort to begin proceedings by reading a speech of apology and had to make do with muttering a few words about this being the ‘most humble day of my life’ as he was firmly but politely put in his place by the Committee chair. For all that he claimed to feel humble he refused to take personal or even corporate responsibility for the appalling and criminal behavior of his journalists who had been prepared to do anything for a scoop. He had been betrayed, he said, by those he trusted, and like the public had only recently learned the details of the shameful hacking of a murdered child’s mobile phone. Even more seriously he claimed to have no knowledge of corrupt practices relating to police and politicians in very high places.
Throughout their testimonies the Murdochs, father and son, protested their innocence of any wrongdoing. They seemed to need to reassure even themselves of this by repeating again and again their mantra about theirs being an honorable business with the highest of professional standards which had been shamed and sullied by these dreadful events. I was repelled by the crass self righteousness of both men as they tried to explain away the payment of hundreds of thousands of pounds as compensation, better described as hush money, to victims of these crimes, and millions more in legal defence fees of the now convicted perpetrators.
Both men seemed to me to have been advised that if not honesty then humility was the best policy. I was sickened by their evasions laced with fulsome expressions of regret and protestations that their own and News corporation’s high standards had somehow been betrayed. The session was almost at an end, as was my willingness to listen to any more of their cant, when some supernatural force took over and gave expression to my unconscious self. A man walked out of the audience and tried to shove Rupert Murdoch’s face into a plate of foam custard pie.
Sadly the protest of Jonnie Marbles seems to have been counter productive. He stole the headlines all right but for assaulting an old man whose wife, Wendy Deng, bravely sprang to his defence. Then Rupert Murdoch was seen by many as a brave old fellow when he insisted on appearing to finish his evidence and to give that very humble apology yet again to the family of the murdered victim of his newspaper’s rapacious need for a headline. The apology was extended to other victims of of phone hacking or, as James describes it, illegal voice-mail interceptions, which sounds nicer, don’t you think?
But Rupert was most apologetic of all to their readers. Watching him apologise to this last group I think that here he was at his most sincere and truly regretful. What will they do without him and the News of the World to provide their weekly snickers about randy vicars and actresses who don’t wear knickers? And what will he do without the revenue from this fine newspaper with its traditions of excellence and high journalistic standards?
Now I want an apology too! Wendy Deng should apologise for having deprived me, along with countless others, of a souvenir photograph of her husband with egg custard on his face.