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.
This wasn’t terribly surprising. When Streep was asked, last year, in the course of promoting her extremely feminist film Suffragette, whether she is herself a feminist, the actor replied that, no, she isn’t. Instead: “I am a humanist,” she said. “I am for nice, easy balance.”
Today’s empires are born on the web, and exert tremendous power in the material world.
Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t had the best week.
First, Facebook’s Free Basics platform was effectively banned in India. Then, a high-profile member of Facebook’s board of directors, the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, sounded off about the decision to his nearly half-a-million Twitter followers with a stunning comment.
“Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades,” Andreessen wrote. “Why stop now?”
After that, the Internet went nuts.
Andreessen deleted his tweet, apologized, and underscored that he is “100 percent opposed to colonialism” and “100 percent in favor of independence and freedom.” Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, followed up with his own Facebook post to say Andreessen’s comment was “deeply upsetting” to him, and not representative of the way he thinks “at all.”
Einstein’s gravitational waves rest on a genuinely radical idea.
After decades of anticipation, we have directly detected gravitational waves—ripples in spacetime traveling at the speed of light through the universe. Scientists at LIGO (the Laser Interferometic Gravitational-wave Observatory) have announced that they have measured waves coming from the inspiral of two massive black holes, providing a spectacular confirmation of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, whose hundredth anniversary was celebrated just last year.
Finding gravitational waves indicates that Einstein was (once again) right, and opens a new window onto energetic events occurring around the universe. But there’s a deeper lesson, as well: a reminder of the central importance of locality, an idea that underlies much of modern physics.
Across China, where new developments are keeping pace with the rapidly growing economy, reports continue to surface so-called "nail houses."
Across China, where new developments are keeping pace with the rapidly growing economy, reports continue to surface of so-called "nail houses." These properties, standing alone amid the ruins of other buildings, belong to owners who have stood their ground and resisted demolition. Defiant property owners say the compensation being offered is too low. Some of them have remained in their homes for years as their court cases drag on and new construction continues all around them. A few homeowners have won their fights, but most have lost. Meanwhile, these nail houses have become powerful symbols of resistance against the world's fastest-growing major economy.
The number of American teens who excel at advanced math has surged. Why?
On a sultry evening last July, a tall, soft-spoken 17-year-old named David Stoner and nearly 600 other math whizzes from all over the world sat huddled in small groups around wicker bistro tables, talking in low voices and obsessively refreshing the browsers on their laptops. The air in the cavernous lobby of the Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was humid, recalls Stoner, whose light South Carolina accent warms his carefully chosen words. The tension in the room made it seem especially heavy, like the atmosphere at a high-stakes poker tournament.
Stoner and five teammates were representing the United States in the 56th International Mathematical Olympiad. They figured they’d done pretty well over the two days of competition. God knows, they’d trained hard. Stoner, like his teammates, had endured a grueling regime for more than a year—practicing tricky problems over breakfast before school and taking on more problems late into the evening after he completed the homework for his college-level math classes. Sometimes, he sketched out proofs on the large dry-erase board his dad had installed in his bedroom. Most nights, he put himself to sleep reading books like New Problems in Euclidean Geometry and An Introduction to Diophantine Equations.
And why stopping it requires that governments get out of the way
As it stands, the international coalition is far from winning the information war against the Islamic State. Its air strikes may be squeezing the group in Iraq and Syria and killing many of its leaders, but that has not halted the self-proclaimed caliphate’s ideological momentum. Indeed, at the end of 2015, it was estimated that the number of foreigners travelling to join militant groups in Iraq and Syria—predominantly the Islamic State—had more than doubled in the course of just 18 months. What’s more, while these figures may be striking, sheer numbers are less important than intent when it comes to the organization’s actual threat to the world. As we have already seen, it takes a very small number of people to unleash great terror, whether in Iraq, Syria, or elsewhere.
Most people know how to help someone with a cut or a scrape. But what about a panic attack?
Here’s a thought experiment: You’re walking down the street with a friend when your companion falls and gashes her leg on the concrete. It’s bleeding; she’s in pain. It’s clear she’s going to need stitches. What do you do?
This one isn’t exactly a head-scratcher. You'd probably attempt to offer some sort of first-aid assistance until the bleeding stopped, or until she could get to medical help. Maybe you happen to have a Band-Aid on you, or a tissue to help her clean the wound, or a water bottle she can use to rinse it off. Maybe you pick her up and help her hobble towards transportation, or take her where she needs to go.
Here’s a harder one: What if, instead of an injured leg, that same friend has a panic attack?
Ben Stiller’s follow-up to his own comedy classic is a downright bummer, no matter how many celebrity cameos it tries to cram in.
You don’t need to go to the theater to get the full experience of Zoolander 2. Simply get your hands on a copy of the original, watch it, and then yell a bunch of unfunny topical lines every time somebody tells a joke. That’s how it feels to watch Ben Stiller’s sequel to his 2001 spoof of the fashion industry: Zoolander 2 takes pains to reference every successful gag you remember from the original, and then embellish them in painful—often offensive, almost always outdated—fashion. It’s a film that has no real reason to exist, and it spends its entire running time reaffirming that fact.
The original Zoolander, to be fair, had no business being as funny as it was—it made fun of an industry that already seems to exist in a constant state of self-parody, and much of its humor relied on simple malapropisms and sight gags. But it was hilarious anyway as a candid snapshot of the fizzling-out of ’90s culture. Like almost any zeitgeist comedy, it belonged to a particular moment—and boy, should it have stayed there. With Zoolander 2, Stiller (who directed, co-wrote, and stars) tries to recapture the magic of 2001 by referencing its past glories with increasing desperation, perhaps to avoid the fact that he has nothing new to say about the fashion industry or celebrity culture 15 years laters.
Mastering English requires abilities that most children don’t develop until they're pre-teens.
Johnny in Topeka can’t read, but Janne in Helsinki is effortlessly finishing his storybooks. Such a disparity may be expected by now, but the reason might come as a surprise: It probably has much less to do with teaching style and quality than with language. Simply put, written English is great for puns but terrible for learning to read or write. It’s like making children from around the world complete an obstacle course to fully participate in society but requiring the English-speaking participants to wear blindfolds.
Adults who have already mastered written English tend to forget about its many quirks. But consider this: English has 205 ways to spell 44 sounds. And not only can the same sounds be represented in different ways, but the same letter or letter combinations can also correspond to different sounds. For example, "cat," "kangaroo," "chrome," and "queue" all start with the same sound, and "eight" and "ate" sound identical. Meanwhile, "it" doesn’t sound like the first syllable of "item," for instance, and "cough" doesn’t rhyme with either "enough," "through," "furlough" or "bough." Even some identically spelled words, such as "tear," can be pronounced differently and mean different things.
When four American women were murdered during El Salvador’s dirty war, a young U.S. official and his unlikely partner risked their lives to solve the case.
On December 1, 1980, two American Catholic churchwomen—an Ursuline nun and a lay missionary—sat down to dinner with Robert White, the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador. They worked in rural areas ministering to El Salvador’s desperately impoverished peasants, and White admired their commitment and courage. The talk turned to the government’s brutal tactics for fighting the country’s left-wing guerrillas, in a dirty war waged by death squads that dumped bodies in the streets and an army that massacred civilians. The women were alarmed by the incoming Reagan administration’s plans for a closer relationship with the military-led government. Because of a curfew, the women spent the night at the ambassador’s residence. The next day, after breakfast with the ambassador’s wife, they drove to San Salvador’s international airport to pick up two colleagues who were flying back from a conference in Nicaragua. Within hours, all four women would be dead.