10:47 am Jul. 19, 2011
To many of us, Rupert Murdoch's testimony before Parliament today—much of which has so far involved mumbled, slowly delivered monosyllables, admissions of not knowing important details about the phone-hacking scandals that embroiled his British newspapers division, and at times an apparent difficulty taking seriously or understanding how his answers made him look--has been somewhat surprising. Is this really the guy who, as one writer put it on Twitter, we've been cowering in fear of?
For what it's worth, my fellow-travelers among the media wags on Twitter appeared to have seen much the same thing as I have:
So I put the following question out there: Quite apart from whether Parliament succeeds or fails in getting damaging testimony from Murdoch Senior (or Junior, for that matter), does the public testimony here make Murdoch look like an out-of-touch executive? As the scandal grows, will Wall Street, or independent shareholders in News Corp., be able to continue to trust him with the leadership of the company?
Interestingly, it looks like some of the people who have spent the most time with their eyes on Rupert Murdoch were the least surprised by his performance so far.
The most interesting answer I got to a question I asked about this morning's testimony was from Peter Kafka of AllThingsD:
And, as Kafka has since pointed out, Rupert is warming to his topic. He is now answering the question of how often he speaks to editors of his newspapers, which intentionally or not will allow him to remind shareholders of the relatively small stakes in the British newspaper game, from their point of view.
And of course, depending on whom you believe these days, and how badly Murdoch wants to keep those papers, that could be good or bad.
Long-former News of the World editor Piers Morgan, now better known stateside as the Replacement Larry King, points out: