Rupert Murdoch’s second visit to Room 73 in the Royal Court of Justice this week; it was always going to be another interesting day or two in the extensive diary of the Leveson Inquiry. One could have predicted a few juicy sound bites for headlines and the requisite amount of controversy following his visit to the hearing; led by Robert Jay QC and chaired by Lord Justice Leveson himself.
However, it turns out that his curmudgeonly mutterings outside the courtroom of a morning or lunchtime provided far more insight on his real attitude to the Inquiry or indeed his general working ethos than the majority of his in-dock soliloquising ever could.
To kick it all off, Wednesday 25th April, day 1 of his new appearance for questioning, Murdoch was heard growling on his way to lunch ” Let’s get him to get this f**king thing over with today”. ( Presumably referring to Robert Jay and Lord Justice Leveson.).
Following a considerable line of interrogation on Wednesday afternoon and unfinished business in courtroom 73, Murdoch emerged once more for a Thursday 26th hearing where he was overheard asking the editor of The Times newspaper ;
” What do you want me to say? Tell me what you want me to say” to which the editor duly replied ” That is not my job”.
These leaks of information are far more interesting or revealing than any ‘eager beaver’ set pieces we heard coming from Murdoch during the Inquiry itself. Other than the occasionally uncontained flash of arrogant frustration, this well seasoned media veteran pulled every trick out of the bag to seem placatory and conciliatory. Only fleetingly did we see a glimmer of that inner monster controlling the good ship Murdoch.
Indeed, when pressed by Robert Jay Qc, Murdoch was quick to claim he had never accepted or requested favours from any senior UK Government figure , even over the span of 3 decades. He rushed to deny any promotion of journalistic phone-hacking by his News Of The World staff at any point in the past. He appeared determined to execute a beautifully polished performance to the highest echelons of our British judicial system. So why should it be that despite this, one was left feeling the very fabric of his attitude appeared to seep out of each controversy enhanced pore under the spotlight? Once the mics were off and the spotlights dimmed, it was a dead cert that it could only be a matter of minutes before his true persona would escape and bite him on the butt.
Left right and centre, contradictions returned to refute Mr Murdoch’s adamant claims of innocence when pressed within the confines of the Leveson Inquiry. He claimed irrefutably that he must have ‘neglected’ certain pockets of his 6,000 strong workforce at the most crucial of times; not showing News Of The World reporters any attention or guidance whilst they were seemingly hacking innocent people’s phones. However, ex- employee Andrew Neil ( now ‘The Politics Show’ and ‘This Week’ presenter) distinctly recalls Mr Murdoch was ‘never off the phone’ whilst he was employed under his jurisdiction.
Murdoch’s muddled acceptance that within his particular media circles, there was more than a little mutual back scratching, merely scratches the surface of his very apparent ethos around corruption. It left one thinking ” there’s so much more here we don’t know about; a whole cavernous, spectral gamut-worth of immoralities which Mr Murdoch will never reveal”.
On occasion, his tactics to divert blame or or responsibility could have possibly fooled an inexperienced ear. He displayed forgetfulness in some phases and victimisation in others. This character of brass neck, steely will and iron fist even displayed the temerity to complain of being hounded into confusion by paparazzi ” sticking a microphone in my mouth”. Misplaced sympathy would never have resulted from these deaf ears.
Then came the last-ditch, poor defeated enactment of painful self disclosure; ” I have failed”. Mr Murdoch had now provided the requisite headline for the next day and he knew it… and if he was really lucky he would deal the perfect line to soften the well-trained mantle of Lord Justice Leveson himself.
Regardless of the splendid, if predictable theatre provided by Mr Murdoch during his two day hearing, the greatest revelations of all were still provided by his ‘off duty’ comments outside the courtroom. Even having provided us with a fleetingly snipey flash-rant at Robert Jay QC, he still couldn’t top (probably) his truest thoughts of the whole inquest when he thought his audience wasn’t listening.
Apologize as much as you like Mr Murdoch, the damage is done and if, ( like you say) in 20 years time you’ll still be around to call halt on the outmoded print press; it will still have never been quite the same from here-on in.
© Tess Egerton 2012