The guts of Tuesday's testimony by Rupert Murdoch was his assertion
that his employees, not the man himself, were responsible for the
extensive phone-hacking and apparent payoffs to police officers.
"Do you accept that ultimately you are responsible for this whole fiasco?" UK lawmaker Jim Sheridan asked.
"No," Murdoch answered.
"You're not responsible? Who is responsible?" Sheridan said.
"The people that I trusted to run [the tabloid], and then maybe the people that they trusted."
response to questions about whether he was culpable of "willful
blindness" or ignoring "knowledge that you could have had and should
have had," he said: "We were not ever guilty of that."
Murdoch may or may not be found to have approved or condoned the gamey, apparently illegal practices of News of the World -- and
possibly of his other UK newspapers housed under News International,
which was headed at various relevant times by his longtime friend Les
Hinton and his much admired protégé, Rebekah Brooks. The facts on those
questions will be developed by a rehabilitated police investigation and
by the inquiry, with subpoena power, which a senior UK judge will
But what is clear is that he failed to
clean up his UK news operation six years ago, when the phone of Prince
Williams was hacked and a News of the World reporter and an
outside private investigator were jailed. This failure of the leader of
the company makes him directly responsible for "this whole fiasco,"
because proper action six years ago would have exposed problems in News
International, led to company sanctions of responsible individuals,
caused a prohibition on improper acts accompanied by an enforced code of
journalistic conduct, and prompted leadership from the top to change
the culture of those news organizations.
Here is my chain of thought on Murdoch's responsibility.
the events became public, it is inconceivable that Rupert Murdoch was
not well aware of the instance of illegal hacking of the heir to the
throne and of the criminal sanctions imposed on a reporter in his own
newspaper. (It isn't every day that one of your reporters is guilty of a
There is an iron rule of corporate
crisis management for top leaders: "It is our problem the moment we hear
about it." Having heard about "it" (the royal hacking and the criminal
disposition), the leader of the corporation should have made sure that
he actually learned the causes of the individual case, whether those
causes were systematic, how many others in the organization were
involved, how people would be disciplined, and how systems and culture
would be changed.
For a CEO (and board of
directors) who really wanted those questions answered, he would have
made sure that there was an independent internal investigator of stature
who could blow through bureaucratic and self-protective obfuscation to
find the truth. The structure, process, and personnel of such an inquiry
were issues that should have been handled at the top of News Corp.,
with the CEO making clear to all that he wanted all the facts on the
Although the News Corp CEO would not,
of course, be involved in the actual inquiry, he would have insisted on
regular reports on how the facts were being developed and then on the
appropriate actions that flowed from those facts.
seems quite clear now that Rupert Murdoch and his feckless board took
none of those steps. In this deeply important sense, Rupert Murdoch is
clearly responsible for the conflagration inside News Corp, contrary to
his attempt yesterday to avoid accountability.
course, there was a sham internal investigation, led by News
International execs and handled by regular outside counsel, which
concluded that there were only acts of one rogue reporter. But it is
now clear that significant amounts of material indicating widespread
hacking were ignored, and that there were improper
relationships--including possible bribes and threats -- with investigating
police that led to a stunted official inquiry.
both James Murdoch and his father acknowledged prior to their
appearance before the Parliamentary committee that News Corp had failed
determine what had been happening in their own organization. According
to James, the now-defunct News of the World and its immediate
corporate parent, News International, had failed to get to the bottom of
"repeated wrong-doing that occurred" and "wrongly maintained that that
these issues were confined to one reporter." Rupert Murdoch said in his
first full page ad last week, " We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing
that occurred. We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the
individuals affected. We regret not acting faster to sort things out."
How about responsibility for a failure to heed the warning sign of a
reporter guilty of a crime and treat the disease before it metastasized.
As a leader, Rupert Murdoch's statement that he is "not responsible" is not just craven. It is wrong.
Ben Heineman Jr. is is a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, in Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and at the Harvard Law School's Program on Corporate Governance. He is the author of High Performance With High Integrity.
The paper of record’s inaccurate reporting on a nonexistent criminal investigation was a failure that should entail more serious consequences.
I have read The New York Times since I was a teenager as the newspaper to be trusted, the paper of record, the definitive account. But the huge embarrassment over the story claiming a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton for her emails—leading the webpage, prominent on the front page, before being corrected in the usual, cringeworthy fashion of journalists who stonewall any alleged errors and then downplay the real ones—is a direct challenge to its fundamental credibility. And the paper’s response since the initial huge error was uncovered has not been adequate or acceptable.
This is not some minor mistake. Stories, once published, take on a life of their own. If they reinforce existing views or stereotypes, they fit perfectly into Mark Twain’s observation, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” (Or perhaps Twain never said it, in which case the ubiquity of that attribution serves to validate the point.) And a distorted and inaccurate story about a prominent political figure running for president is especially damaging and unconscionable.
A newly discovered artifact buried with one of Jamestown’s most prominent leaders suggests he could have been a crypto-Catholic.
After 400 years in the Virginia dirt, the box came out of the ground looking like it had been plucked from the ocean. A tiny silver brick, now encrusted with a green patina and rough as sandpaper. Buried beneath it was a human skeleton. The remains would later be identified as those of Captain Gabriel Archer, one of the most prominent leaders at Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America. But it was the box, which appeared to be an ancient Catholic reliquary, that had archaeologists bewildered and astonished.
“One of the major surprises was the discovery of this mysterious small silver box,” said James Horn, the president of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation. “I have to say, we’re still trying to figure this out. You have the very strange situation of a Catholic reliquary being found with the leader of the first Protestant church in the country.”
Has the Obama administration’s pursuit of new beginnings blinded it to enduring enmities?
“The president said many times he’s willing to step out of the rut of history.” In this way Ben Rhodes of the White House, who over the years has broken new ground in the grandiosity of presidential apologetics, described the courage of Barack Obama in concluding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the Islamic Republic of Iran, otherwise known as the Iran deal. Once again Rhodes has, perhaps inadvertently, exposed the president’s premises more clearly than the president likes to do. The rut of history: It is a phrase worth pondering. It expresses a deep scorn for the past, a zeal for newness and rupture, an arrogance about old struggles and old accomplishments, a hastiness with inherited precedents and circumstances, a superstition about the magical powers of the present. It expresses also a generational view of history, which, like the view of history in terms of decades and centuries, is one of the shallowest views of all.
The agreement doesn’t guarantee that Tehran will never produce nuclear weapons—because no agreement could do so.
A week ago I volunteered my way into an Atlantic debate on the merits of the Iran nuclear agreement. The long version of the post is here; the summary is that the administration has both specific facts and longer-term historic patterns on its side in recommending the deal.
On the factual front, I argued that opponents had not then (and have not now) met President Obama’s challenge to propose a better real-world alternative to the negotiated terms. Better means one that would make it less attractive for Iran to pursue a bomb, over a longer period of time. Real world means not the standard “Obama should have been tougher” carping but a specific demand that the other countries on “our” side, notably including Russia and China, would have joined in insisting on, and that the Iranians would have accepted.
The new version of Apple’s signature media software is a mess. What are people with large MP3 libraries to do?
When the developer Erik Kemp designed the first metadata system for MP3s in 1996, he provided only three options for attaching text to the music. Every audio file could be labeled with only an artist, song name, and album title.
Kemp’s system has since been augmented and improved upon, but never replaced. Which makes sense: Like the web itself, his schema was shipped, good enough,and an improvement on the vacuum which preceded it. Those three big tags, as they’re called, work well with pop and rock written between 1960 and 1995. This didn’t prevent rampant mislabeling in the early days of the web, though, as anyone who remembers Napster can tell you. His system stumbles even more, though, when it needs to capture hip hop’s tradition of guest MCs or jazz’s vibrant culture of studio musicianship.
Orr: “Sometimes a thing happens. Splits your life. There’s a before and after. I got like five of them at this point.”
This was Frank offering a pep talk to the son of his murdered former henchman Stan in tonight’s episode. (More on this in a moment.) But it’s also a line that captures this season of True Detective so perfectly that it almost seems like a form of subliminal self-critique.
Remember when Ray got shot in episode two and appeared to be dead but came back with a renewed sense of purpose and stopped drinking. No? That’s okay. Neither does the show: It was essentially forgotten after the subsequent episode. Remember when half a dozen (or more) Vinci cops were killed in a bloody shootout along with dozen(s?) of civilians? No? Fine: True Detective’s left that behind, too. Unless I missed it, there was not a single mention of this nationally historic bloodbath tonight.
U.S. officials are turning to Russia for help with Iran and Syria, even as the Ukrainian conflict persists.
If you believe all the talk out there lately, Vladimir Putin is not only duplicitous and hypocritical—the Russian president’s also been pretty damn busy recently. Busy cutting secret deals with the same Europeans and Americans he has been vilifying for years. And if you believe the rumors, the Europeans and Americans have also been busy selling out Ukraine to the Russians.
Not that any of this would be unusual or particularly surprising. Cynicism, duplicity, and hypocrisy are often the reserve currencies of politics, where interests tend to trump values.
There have long been suspicions that the United States and Europe might give Ukraine up in exchange for Russia’s support in securing a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program. Additionally, Washington has been seeking Moscow’s backing in securing a managed, orderly, and negotiated exit for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, which would go a long way toward ending the conflict in that country.
This is the third in a series. Readers are invited to send their own responses to email@example.com, and we will post their strongest critiques of the book and the accompanied reviews. (The first batch is here.) To further encourage civil and substantive responses via email, we are closing the comments section. You can follow the whole series on Twitter at #BTWAM and read all of the responses to the book from Atlantic readers and contributors.
Several years ago, Ta-Nehisi Coates took his son, not yet 5, to see a movie on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. As his son made his way off the escalator, a white woman pushed him and said, “Come on!” Chaos ensued. There was a black parent’s rage and a white man’s threat to have the black parent arrested. Coates narrates the incident in cool, steady prose. Ultimately, he writes of the regret he carries: “In seeking to defend you I was, in fact, endangering you.”
Even with the overwhelming recent New York cover story, the women pay a price for speaking out.
Who still defends Bill Cosby? After newly unsealed depositions revealed that the comedian admitted to acquiring sedatives to give to women he wanted to have sex with, his longstanding backer Whoopi Goldberg recanted her support for the man accused of dozens of rapes over the years. The singer Jill Scott, too, said she was wrong when she suspected a media conspiracy against him. And if Cosby’s former costars, including Phylicia Rashad, still believe him to be the target of an illegitimate smear campaign, they haven’t spoken up to say so in a while. Cosby’s lawyer is currently making the rounds in the media to say his deposition has been misconstrued—but that argument, even if believed, doesn’t refute the idea that he used drugs to take advantage of women.