After taking phone calls about Rupert Murdoch on Brian Lehrer’s show this morning and then immediately doing an hour-long diavlog with Alex Massie on the subject, I’m beginning to get a little Murdoch-ed out. But there are three newish points that are worth raising.
Firstly, what was the mechanism by which it was agreed that Rupert and James Murdoch would appear in parliament together? Having James by his side was a godsend for Rupert, and James clearly took his role as a shield for his father very seriously. I’m sure the more aggressive MPs would have preferred to be able to grill Rupert on his own, as they did Rebekah Brooks. How did that not happen?
Secondly, according to Michael Tomasky, there is a strong case that News Corp really could be prosecuted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the US, were the Justice Department so inclined.
And thirdly, just check out the number of Murdoch defenses on the WSJ op-ed page over the past couple of days:
- The original, notorious, anonymous op-ed;
- A paean to Murdoch by Robert Pollock, the WSJ’s editorial features editor;
- Bret Stephens arguing that the News of the World was less bad than the Guardian and the New York Times;
- An argument by two former Justice employees that News Corp should not be prosecuted under the FCPA;
- Holman Jenkins saying that phone-tapping was “tolerated, routine and abetted by official agencies”;
- James Taranto attacking Joe Nocera’s complaints about the WSJ; and
- James Taranto, again, the following day, attacking other Murdoch’s attackers, and clamoring for press freedom.
I’m sure that there will be many more to come. But I’m sure this is far from what the Bancrofts expected when Murdoch promised them that the WSJ would enjoy total editorial independence.