The metamorphosis of 'Murdochgate'
What started out as a morality tale about the indiscretions of one of Rupert Murdoch's most tawdry tabloids is turning into a complex paper chase.
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The most memorable moment may have come at the end, when the elder Murdoch was hit with a shaving foam pie and his wife Wendi Deng leaped instantly to slap down the pie thrower.Skip to next paragraph
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But now the scandal, which Murdoch-owned media has characterized as unwonted hysteria engineered by enemies of News Corp., is entering a phase that Mr. Moore calls one of “many many lawyers.”
Today, for example, brought charges by two former News Corp. executives that aspects of James Murdoch’s testimony were fraudulent.
In dispute is whether the younger Murdoch knew of the scale of the phone hacking – that involved some 3,870 people – prior to making a hefty payout in a libel suit brought by one of the victims. The two executives, including former News Corp. legal chief Tom Crone, say he did.
“How could [Murdoch] not realize that hacking was more widespread, and why did he take no action to root out the culprits when forced to approve huge sums in compensation?” asked an editorial in today's London Evening Standard.
A Financial Times chart published today detailed the nexus of communication and relationships between principle figures in the scandal – including police, News Corp. figures, and members of the government – looks like two plates of spaghetti mashed together.
When Britain returns from holiday, the inquiries will diversify, looking at hacking in other media outlets and the charges by a senior civil servant in Downing Street that his phone was hacked while he was working there.
Following the scandal, it is questionable whether the public will support further efforts by Murdoch to expand his business here.
A number of experts and analysts say the public has done its job and had its effect, and that the scandal is now entering a nuanced phase that will rely in its inquires on a host of savvy and intelligent figures that will not wither away in coming months.
James Curran, director of the media center at the University of London, argues that for years the British public was growing tired and more critical of the influence and effect of the tabloids, “but that criticism had no champion anywhere across the nation … and suddenly that has changed.
“The British people may think that ‘Oh, nothing will change in the end.’ Their skepticism is strong. But I think they may be wrong this time.”