6th May 2012 3:42pm | By Editor
In an astonishing report last week, Rupert Murdoch was branded “not fit to run a major international company” by MPs investigating the News Of The World phone-hacking scandal.
Sixty years after the 81-year-old News Corp chief started out in newspapers, he was found ultimately responsible for the illegal practice that has corroded his global empire and damaged the political establishment.
The scathing criticism, by the cross-party Commons Culture Committee, hit Australian-born Murdoch hard. On the receiving end of relentless screaming headlines, Murdoch’s company attempted to defend him, calling the findings “unjustified and highly partisan”.
But in a telling email to News International staff, Murdoch confessed: “I recognise for all of us – myself in particular – it is difficult to read many of the report’s findings.
‘’But we have done the most difficult part, which has been to take a long, hard and honest look at our past mistakes.
‘’There is no easy way around this, but I am proud to say that we have been working hard to put things right.’’
Understanding the significance of the report, the boss of BSkyB was quick to distance the company from Murdoch, despite News Corp owning 39 per cent of the British firm, and wanting control. “I would emphasise that it’s important to remember that Sky and News Corporation are separate companies,” Jeremy Darroch said.
Now in tatters, Murdoch’s reputation has nosedived since the revelations that his journalists hacked into murdered teen Milly Dowler’s mobile and deleted messages came to light in July 2011. The scandal had been bubbling away in the background for years, but it was this that made the public take note, leading to the Leveson Inquiry and subsequent arrests of not only Murdoch’s staff, but senior Met Police.
“Rupert Murdoch’s reputation is at rock bottom,” says Charlie Beckett, director of the London School of Economics’ journalism thinktank. “He’s now tarred with all of this, even though he denies knowing about it. He’s made huge mistakes, News Corp has made huge mistakes all along the line [at the inquiry], and that’s because they were banged to rights; they did allow this to happen.”
How did they it go wrong? How was it the man described as inventing the modern tabloid, with a net worth of $8.3bn, who’s been listed three times in Time 100 as among the most influential people in the world, could fall so spectacularly?