Instant view: Murdochs testify to UK parliament

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 19, 2011 11:04 AM
Instant view: Murdochs testify to UK parliament

LONDON (Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch told the British parliament on Tuesday that giving evidence on the phone-hacking and corruption scandal that has engulfed his global media empire was "the most humble day of my life."

His son James opened the much-awaited proceedings in a committee room at Westminster by apologizing for the distress caused to victims of voicemail hacking.

Following are analysts' comments on the hearing:

WYN GRANT, POLITICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK

"I don't think it has been terribly revealing or illuminating so far.

"Many of the MPs (lawmakers), with the exception of Tom Watson, have not been terribly successful at putting questions that actually put them on the spot.

"The Murdochs have used this tactic of saying they have no knowledge, which they may well not have, about particular issues.

"It is clear that decisions were devolved quite a way down the organization because the News of the World was a small part of that total operation.

"James Murdoch is making the argument that 'well, we are trying to clean out the stables now and we didn't realize what the extent of the problem was'.

"It's a rather mixed performance by the committee members at the moment and not all of them are putting the Murdochs under pressure."

CHARLIE BECKETT, DIRECTOR, POLIS THINK TANK ON JOURNALISM AND SOCIETY AT THE LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS

"I'm not an anti-Murdoch cheerleader, but I am rather surprised how it's not gone well for them.

"They were obviously thrown by not being allowed to read their opening statement, which we now know includes the line 'this is the humblest day of my life' that Rupert definitely intervened to make sure he got that out.

"That threw things. And Tom Watson (committee member) has focused on Murdoch senior and again that threw their choreography. I think James Murdoch was supposed to do the heavy-duty lifting on facts and process.

"We heard Rupert Murdoch say 'I am not responsible' and that sounds strange from a CEO. It may have been that they wanted to distance Rupert from the detail.

"News Corp may have wanted to come out of this with headlines saying 'the Murdochs are humbled', but without any new guilt being pinned on either of them. That would have been a good result for them and part of the rebuilding process.

"But unfortunately it looks like that has been forced out of them."

IAN WHITTAKER, FINANCIAL ANALYST, LIBERUM CAPITAL

"There have been no big, blockbuster revelations so far, although the questioning so far has not been particularly aggressive.

"What has emerged is that Rupert Murdoch didn't know the details of what was going on at News of The World, although given the size of his business empire it is questionable whether he should be expected to.

"Perhaps what is more interesting is some of the body language."

(Reporting by Christina Fincher and Peter Griffiths)