Rupert Murdoch fled London today with egg — or at least shaving
cream — on his face after his dismal appearance before Parliament did little
to stop the outcry over the phone hacking and police bribery scandal in Britain
or ease shareholder pressure back in the United States for him to step aside
and dramatically change the governance structure of News Corp.“Calpers sees the voting structure in a company as
CalPers, which owns 6.4 million shares, denounced News Corp. rules as “corrupt” because most investors don’t have voting rights, leaving control of the company in the hands of Murdoch and his family.
“News Corp does not have one share one vote,” Anne Simpson,who is in charge of corporate governance at CalPers, told British media, noting the Murdochs own 12% of the company but their special B shares give them voting rights over 40% of the company.
“This is a corruption of the governance system. Power should reflect capital at risk. Calpers sees the voting structure in a company as critical. The situation is very serious and we’re considering our options. We don’t intend to be spectators – we’re owners.”
The comedian arrested for shoving the shaving cream pie in Murdoch’s face when he was testifying to a parliamentary committee wrote an article for The Guardian, which has spearheaded the investigation of the scandal, explaining why his actione
“It’s not difficult to find reasons to dislike Rupert Murdoch. His reach is one of the most insidious and toxic forces in global politics today,” wrote Jonnie Marbles, whose real name is Jonathan May-Bowles.
“The phone-hacking scandal, despicable though it is, barely scratches the surface of the damage done by News International. It is a media empire built on deceit and bile, that trades vitriol for debate and thinks nothing of greasing the wheels of power until they turn in its favour. What’s more, no matter what the grievances he wreaks on those he has never met, his power and money keep him forever safely out of their reach …
“Believe it or not, I even worried about Rupert Murdoch’s feelings. You see, I really don’t hate 80-year-olds and, at the end of the day, Rupert Murdoch is just an old man. Maybe what I was trying to do was remind everyone of that – that he is not all powerful, he’s not Sauron or Beelzebub, just a human being, like the rest of us, but one who has got far too big for his boots.”
Murdoch was backtracking dramatically today in the face of the criticisms.
The Guardian’s real-time Politics Blog which tracks minute-by-minute developments reported the media mogul suddenly cut off payments today for legal fees for private investigator Glenn Mulcaire who is at the center of the phone hacking scandal.
Murdoch also reversed himself on refusing to allow the law firm Harbottle & Lewis to speak to Parliament or Scotland Yard about how it came to the conclusion that the problems at the now closed News of the World were entirely the work of a single rogue reporter — a conclusion that is now totally discredited.
You can see the sun setting on the Murdoch Empire.
Rupert and son James performance Tuesday before Parliament was so ineffective that the Financial Times led a story on the exit strategy for the 80-year-old News Corp. Chairman and CEO by declaring which family emerged best from the hearing, saying: “Leaping across the room to land a loud slap on the idiotic foam pie protester who had assailed her 80-year-old husband, Wendi Murdoch was fearsome.”
Rupert and James Murdoch talked about how sorry they were and how humble they feel but took utterly no responsibility for the pervasive culture of unethical journalistic practice, blaming subordinates, or more precisely lower-level underlings.
Clearly, the buck — or the billions of bucks — didn’t stop at their desks. Or say they say with their claim of what amounts to ”willful blindness” and an abdication of their responsibility to know what’s going on in their business.
Of course, it was all the little people’s fault, the people who do their dirty work, not the people who like the Murdochs or senior executive Rebekah Brooks who walked away in disgrace with a $5.5 million severance check and was immediately arrested on suspicion of bribery and phone hacking.
In all, the Murdoch empire is facing 10 separate investigations in Britian and others in the U.S.
One report by the Commons Home Affairs Committee just released a blistering indictment of what went on at the News of the World, accusing the management of trying to thwart the criminal investigation, Editor Rebekah Brooks of not telling the truth and police failing to investigate the charges properly among other wrongful acts.
Murdoch claimed he was the only who could deal with this crisis but his performance Tuesday showed that for all his amoral genius, he’s too old and slow now but his wife who is half his age showed how quick she is when she jumped to his defense in the pie-throwing attack.
Maybe Rupert will turn to Wendi for salvation. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful end to his story.