Select Committee Farce

Did you see it? Well, did you? If you didn’t, did you at least catch the ‘highlights’ on the news? It seems that current affairs is the new national hobby.

I dipped in and out of the coverage of the select committee featuring Murdoch Senior and Junior, or – giving the Bush men a run for their money – dumb and dumber. I found their performances rather interesting to say the least. Eighty-year-old Rupert decided to use his advanced years to his advantage by appearing doddery and forgetful. I don’t know about anyone else but I wasn’t convinced. Although James jumped in at every opportunity to aid his father, I don’t feel that the ‘vulnerable old man’ act was a true representation of this multi-billionaire media mogul. If Rupert Murdoch is so out of touch and not compos mentis, why would he still be in charge of News Corporation? Why not hand everything over to his kids?

I found Rupert’s act about as believable as Ratko Mladic’s claims that he wasn’t fit to stand trial at The Hague.

As for James Murdoch, I cannot believe that that stuttering idiot oversees international operations for News Corps. Every time he addressed the panel, he said “errrm” a great deal and seemed genuinely frightened.

Both of Rupert and James looked like they were caught on the back foot, despite knowing they were going to appear in front of this panel several days in advance. Perhaps it was the fact that they were politely refused the opportunity to make an opening statement.

During the questioning, both Murdochs claimed to be unaware of a lot of processes going on in their company. If I was the owner or chairman of a company, I would certainly want to know what was being done with my money and under my name. Ultimately, the buck stops at the top therefore you must want to know what’s going on, just in case you end up in front of a select committee accused of all sorts? The phrase “I have no knowledge of that” has never been so frequently used. How can these men get away with just denying knowledge? How can they claim not to know about cheques for £1,000,000 to buy silence from people? Do they really delegate authority to others, authorising them to make payments for that large a sum?

I did feel that some of the MPs were using the coverage to get their five minutes of fame, particularly the man who asked Rupert Murdoch if he’d gone “through David Cameron’s back door” (cue immature tittering). I was also irritated by committee members being told to hurry up as there were other people to see – how can we expect to get the full story on a deadline? (A common phrase around news rooms everywhere).

The most amusing phrase to come out of the committee was James Murdoch’s repeated use of “quantum of damages”. Does he think he’s James Bond?

I did wonder who had advised the Murdochs on their appearance today, no doubt some well-paid PR guru had told them to appear humble and ashamed to garner sympathy. I must admit that I don’t think News Corps is the only organisation to undertake illegal journalistic activities – they’re the only ones thus far to be caught out.

The most pertinent question from the footage I watched was “Are you aware of the phrase ‘willful blindness’?” To which James Murdoch spluttered and stuttered, looking panicked. I’ll take that as a yes, then.

When Rupert Murdoch was asked how often he kept in touch with his editors, he said “not so often, perhaps once a month for NOTW, more often for The Times” and that he wouldn’t necessarily ask what the stories were, or the methods used to get such stories, he’d just ask “What’s doing?” Apparently large sums of money exchanging hands for information wasn’t important enough to mention.

I then left my television to go and meet my friend for a coffee and missed the shaving foam custard pie / common assault happening in real-time but have repeatedly seen it on the news. In the interest of fairness: how did the guy get past security? OK, it was just shaving foam but what if it had been acid? It is yet another example of the police’s failure.

This farce has demonstrated, yet again, what a shameful state this country is in. The saga continues but here’s my thought for the day: don’t mess with Rupert’s wife….!

Vic x


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