Why James Murdoch Won’t Survive the Phone Hacking Scandal
2:59 pm, July 22nd | by Amy Tennery
During the Parliament hearings, James Murdoch might have appeared the Winklevoss to his Dad’s Mr. Magoo — handsome, sharp and quick with an answer — but the brainy protege of media’s most (in)famous mogul is now facing a landslide of accusations he can’t outrun. And while Rupert Murdoch’s career is in jeopardy, it’s arguably less important than James’. After all, the elder Murdoch is 80 and may or may not be senile, depending on how convincing you found his “old man” performance on Tuesday.
But will Rupert’s would-be rising star bounce back from this mess? We sincerely doubt it.
For starters, James Murdoch faces damning accusations that he may have lied in his testimony to Parliament this week. And, unlike News Corp’s old attorneys Harbottle & Lewis, these accusers can (and did) actually share what they know without getting into legal trouble. Former News of the World editor Colin Myler and Tom Crone, the one-time head of legal affairs at the paper, have both claimed that they gave James Murdoch the head’s up on the breadth of the hacking activity, according to the Guardian.
The duo say they pointed out a specific email to Murdoch that directly contradicted the notion that the hacking was an isolated incident, perpetrated by one reporter. This of course, is pretty much the opposite of what Murdoch claimed in Parliament. Oh dear.
Of course, his problems with Britain’s political higher ups don’t end there.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron went on BBC today, according to Businessweek, to proffer this little gem of a thought on Murdoch:
“Clearly James Murdoch has got questions to answer in Parliament and I’m sure he will do that… News International has got some big issues to deal with and a mess to clear up. That has to be done by the management of that company.”
That’s right — more questions.
And, making matters worse, “an unnamed government official” said that the U.S. Justice Department is now in the process of investigating claims that News Corp writers hacked 9/11 victims’ phones. If true, this would open a whole other can of worms: the Murdochs claimed during their Tuesday hearing that they had no evidence that 9/11 victims were targeted.
So what makes today’s revelations a turning point for James Murdoch? Well, for starters, we now have possible, tangible proof that he may have lied (or, as Myler so delicate put it, was “mistaken”) during the testimony. And, he certainly hasn’t made a believer out of Prime Minister Cameron.
But, more importantly, all of these accusations focus intensely upon him, in one way or another. And, as he faces the bulk of the scrutiny, another worthy contender of the News Corp top spot has sailed through this unscathed: COO Chase Carey.
Carey — or, as I like to call him, “Wilford Brimley Minus 30 Years” — had been James’ mustachioed, neck-and-neck competitor for the top News Corp spot for a while now. And, as rumors swirl that Carey might take over as CEO, James Murdoch’s future looks grimmer. In fact, Carey’s more advanced age and depth of experience probably made him a better candidate from the get-go. Perhaps it was James Murdoch’s surname kept him in the running for as long as he did.
Of course, having the Murdoch moniker isn’t helping much anymore.