Audit Notes: Ex-Execs Flip, Rupert’s Management, Daily Show

The big Murdoch hacking scandal news today is that two former News of the World executives contradicted James Murdoch’s testimony before Parliament on whether they had showed him a critical email before he signed off on the huge Gordon Taylor settlement.

Today, former NotW lawyer Tom Crone and former top editor Colin Myler said that Murdoch Jr. did see the damning evidence before he settled, which contradicts his claims on Tuesday.

The Guardian:

If their statement of Thursday night is correct, Rupert’s son will have proved to have misled parliament. He will also have destroyed the Murdoch family’s last line of defence against the scandal - that they knew nothing, and had been betrayed by those underlings they trusted.

Myler and Crone are, in effect, accusing James Murdoch of being part of the cover-up, one in which the company’s executives vainly twisted and turned to conceal the truth about phone hacking and blame it on a single “rogue reporter”.

James Murdoch’s crucial claim to the committee was that he had personally agreed to a massive payout, of £700,000 to hacking victim Gordon Taylor, in ignorance of the true facts. He said Crone and Myler had told him the payout was legally necessary.

There are even bigger implications to this turn of events, which David Leigh and Nick Davies spell out here:

In police inquiries, the most sensitive moment is generally considered to be when those involved start to turn on one another. James Murdoch and the then News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks had turned on Crone and Myler - particularly the long-serving Crone - in their testimony.

The Wall Street Journal has a good story on the development, leading with that angle:

Two former executives at News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid on Thursday disputed a key part of this week’s parliamentary testimony by James Murdoch on phone hacking at the paper, marking the first time that top officials at the media conglomerate have broken ranks in a scandal that has enveloped the company.

James Murdoch released a brief statement this evening saying he stands by his testimony.

— Rupert Murdoch defended himself on Tuesday by testifying that he was chief executive of a giant multinational with 53,000 employees, and couldn’t be expected to know what was going on at the News of the World or with the coverup. That’s not an implausible defense for a CEO, particularly an octogenarian one, to make.

But Murdoch is no average CEO. He’s famously one of the most hands-on of newspaper proprietors. How has that played out over the years across his properties? Media Matters culls the archives to find stories by The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Michael Wollf’s Murdoch biography, and more to give us a picture.

Surely, Murdoch wasn’t as hands-on as he’d been in previous decades with the News of the World—his empire is bigger, he has more important papers now, and he’s older. But at the very least, the culture at his papers, by almost all accounts, comes from Murdoch himself.

This Media Matters post is a good place to start if you want some background on how Murdoch historically has run the News show.

The Daily Show deftly skewers Fox News’s downplaying of its parent company’s scandal, noting how different it felt when it had NPR in its sights:

Actual Fox News quote:

Is NPR the agent somehow of a jihadist inquisition?


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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,