By January 12, 2012 2 Comments Read More →

Rupert Murdoch Hearing; Ignorance is Bliss.

One of the many news highlights of 2011.

A look back at the infamous Murdoch hearing. The lies and legal investigations are still ongoing since this article was first published in 2011.

Will the public ever know the entire story when it comes to Rupert Murdoch’s shadowy world?

I have lost a day to the Murdoch hearing. I intended only to watch for a few hours but became completely hypnotized and/or bored into a coma and ended up watching at least six hours, hooked until the very end when Rebekah Brooks took her onstage bows to an unconvinced audience. No one should have really expected anything other than denials, ignorance, blame shifting and apologies from all who testified at the hearing. Murdoch Senior’s first statement was that, “This is the most humble day of my life” or in other words, “please feel sorry for me and make sure this statement makes the headlines in all newspapers.”
I did miss most of the now resigned Met Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson’s appearance at the hearing due to an interrupted Wifi signal. Stephenson was up first at the hearing but no one really expected anything but denials and blame shifting from the Met Police. The British public are well aware of the corruption that goes on in the UK police force. This corruption has existed for years and will continue to exist thanks to the lack of accountability and the ever increasing amount of power the police have been granted by the government. The UK police can kill people and get away with it so bribery and corruption doesn’t come as any surprise. But bribery and corruption between News International and the police and Members of Parliament should be the focal issue. Repeatedly calling this a ‘phone hacking’ scandal is missing the bigger picture of the corruption that is all too evident among the British establishment.
But the public had tuned in to see the Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks; the villains of the piece. Murdoch senior gave a convincing portrayal of a frail old man rather than the master manipulator and influencer he is widely regarded as. He came over as someone who wasn’t really sure of what was going on or that he should have even lowered himself to be there and constantly tried to divert questions over to his son. Murdoch Snr feebly banged his hand on the table when making a point and denied any knowledge of wrong doing due to the fact that his British newspapers and the journalists who work for his company were a tiny part of his empire and he employs 50,000 people; how was he expected to keep track of them all? If that is the case then who knows what the rest of them get up to without Murdoch’s knowledge, and that is the line of defense Murdoch wanted to put across. He was not aware of what was going on. When Murdoch Jr was asked if he knew what the term ‘willful blindness’ meant he claimed he had no knowledge of that term although Murdoch Snr stated that, “We have never been guilty of that.”
Murdoch Jr talked a little, perhaps one or two sentences, about the pay-offs that had been given to Rebekah Brooks and the confidentially clauses that were included, all the while maintaining that transparency was an important key issue of the hearing. Transparency and confidentially clauses are contradictory terms. Confidentiality clauses are set in place so that employees cannot talk about information they their employers do not wish made public, in this case, knowledge that may hurt Murdoch’s empire. According to new reports, Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of The News of the World and News International CEO, was given a £3.5 million pay-off when she resigned from New International. Confidentiality clauses were in place meaning she was legally bound to keep her mouth shut about issues that the Murdochs didn’t want made public.

Confidentiality clauses are not to be taken lightly and breaking these employment terms and conditions can have serious consequences. The case of Jeffrey Wiggand comes to mind with regards to confidentiality clauses. Wiggand was a Brown and Williamson tobacco research and development employee who blew the whistle on the company about the addictive ingredients that were added to the company’s cigarettes. Wiggand endured harassment and death threats throughout the case but was also threatened with incarceration if he broke the confidentiality clauses included in his contract. Confidentiality clauses are designed to protect the company, even if this means that employees are aware that wrong doing is taking place, wrong doing that it would be in the public’s best interests to know about.

Back to the hearing and it was obvious that although the need for transparency was mentioned by Murdoch Jr he had no intention of actually admitting to anything. Murdoch Jr followed a set pattern when answering questions, which basically included repeating the sentence, “That is a good question and it’s an important question and I would like to answer that question but I don’t have that information at the moment.”

With Murdoch Snr sitting with a glazed expression and Murdoch Jr apparently using the mantra approach to answering questions the entire hearing did have a farcical feel to it. The farce then turned to slap-stick with the appearance of the pie man. Jonnie Marbles, a stand-up comedian, had managed to enter and then sit in the hearing with a foam filled plate. Marbles tweeted a few lines during the hearing such as, “Murdoch is Mr Burns’ and “It is a far better thing that I do now than I have ever done before #splat” before sauntering down to where Murdoch Snr was sitting to thrust the foam pie into Murdoch’s face. Murdoch’s wife was having none of this and sprang into action to deliver a stinging blow to Marble’s face. You got the feeling that this was something she should have done long ago to Murdoch Snr, perhaps it was misdirected anger.

Rebekah Brooks finally arrived and gave a valium induced performance. Brooks came on stage after the Murdochs as an indication that she is the one to blame, leave the best until last. Brooks has been viewed as either the fall guy of the entire scandal or as the one who is entirely responsible. For some reason Brooks seemed to be the star of the show here. Would she do the right thing and let something slip that would incriminate the Murdochs? Would she say screw the confidentiality clauses and the £3.5 million, here is the truth of the matter? Would she stand up to the might of the Murdochs?

Brooks sat in the room, which was now empty of the public thanks to Marble’s surprise attack. The security team that let Marbles in with his pie had now decided to clear the room as a security precaution. So whereas the Murdochs had a packed audience Brooks sat alone, looking tired, with her head constantly bowed. With her mass of red curls she looked somewhat similar to Little Orphan Annie or maybe her older more cynical sister. She did at least try to answer some of the questions fired at her. But with confidentiality clauses in place we were not going to get the entire truth or anywhere near the truth from Rebekah Brooks. At the end of the hearing she did state that she hoped that in the future when she was free from ‘legal constraints’ she would be given the chance to appear again to answer questions. Yes Rebekah/Annie, the sun will come out tomorrow, on Sunday’s if the rumors are correct.

And so with the hearing over and my coffee buzz reaching critical levels my mind started to reassess the dark maze that was the ‘phone hacking’ scandal, focusing particularly on the death of Sean Hore. Hore was the whistleblower in the scandal, the first journalist to admit that Andy Coulson knew that his staff were using phone hacking methods to obtain stories. Coulson, a former News of the World Editor and more recently Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications director has since been arrested and questioned on allegations of corruption and making pay-offs to Metropolitan police officers. According to Hore, Coulson had actively encouraged him to use hacking methods to obtain exclusive news stories.

On the 18th of July, the day before the Murdoch’s hearing, Sean Hoare, a man described by those who knew him as an old school journalist and a man who took no payment for telling his story and naming names was found dead at his home. The police stated that Hoare’s death was unexplained but not suspicious and that no third party was involved in his death. Hoare had stated on the phone hacking scandal that, “There’s more to come. This is not going to go away.” Hoare was a journalist who couldn’t be bought off and was not going to shut up about what he knew. In fact only a week before the hearing Hoare was talking to the New York Times about the mobile phone technology provided by the UK police in exchange for payments from News of the World journalists.

In the world of conspiracy theories there are many that can be made from Hoare’s death. As the corruption allegations are now being investigated in Murdoch’s empire worldwide theories include that Hoare was murdered to shut him up and as a warning sign to others to shut up. If anyone at the Murdoch hearing had decided to come clean and break their confidentiality clauses the unexplained death of Sean Hoare the day before the hearing would definitely make them think twice about doing so. Another theory has been touted that Hoare was murdered by a third party to place further suspicion on Murdoch and to help with the deterioration of his grip on his empire. Of course maybe the 40 year old Hoare simply died, in an unexplained manner, the day before the Murdoch’s hearing. It’s a perfectly reasonable coincedence.

News reports are now edging towards questions about Prime Minister David Cameron and his extent of knowledge and involvement in the scandal. David Cameron was after all a friend of Rebekah Brooks, employed Andy Coulson as a member of staff and had frequent meetings with Rupert Murdoch. It was mentioned at the hearing and admitted by Murdoch that whenever he was invited to Downing Street by Cameron he had to enter and leave by the back door. One of those back door visits was made in order to help Cameron celebrate his victory in the 2010 general election.

There is no doubt that Rupert Murdoch and his media empire hold a huge influence throughout the world, especially where politics and business go hand in hand. His company owns Fox News, and Murdoch supported Bush and the Iraq war. Fox News held a pro Bush and pro Iraq War stance and Fox News reports were designed to influence the public in favor of the war. Murdoch is a man who can influence the public into supporting illegal wars. He uses his media corporation to influence others to his agenda but it seems as if the walls of Murdoch’s global empire are now crumbling, or at least that is how it appears to the world.

As Sean Hoare stated, “There’s more to come. This is not going to go away.” But will the public ever know the entire story when it comes to Rupert Murdoch’s shadowy world?

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About the Author:

Garry Crystal is a freelance writer living in the UK. His short stories and articles have appeared in print and online including Expats Post, The Andirondack Review, Turnrow Journal, Roadside Fiction and Orato. His first book Leaving London is available on Amazon and other retailers now. View My Profile

  • Cher Duncombe

    Great article Garry. The Rupert Murdochs of the world are far too corrupt in their influence. To own FOX News and influence a war is beyond the pale. For an owner of news outlets period, influence-peddling dishonors the entire scale of journalistic integrity. And truly, conspiracy theories aside, the timing of the death of Sean Hoare seems far more than a coincidence. There is much within this article that can be learned by every journalist or student of journalism. I would not be surprised to see this in a college text book someday.

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  • Thanks Cher. The Murdochs of this world always have and always will exist especially when others are either too scared of them or see ways to benefit from the existance of these corrupt individuals. Last year a lot of people have been making a stand against the corruption of the corporations, I hope this continues this year.

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