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.
Long after research contradicts common medical practices, patients continue to demand them and physicians continue to deliver. The result is an epidemic of unnecessary and unhelpful treatments.
First, listen to the story with the happy ending: At 61, the executive was in excellent health. His blood pressure was a bit high, but everything else looked good, and he exercised regularly. Then he had a scare. He went for a brisk post-lunch walk on a cool winter day, and his chest began to hurt. Back inside his office, he sat down, and the pain disappeared as quickly as it had come.
That night, he thought more about it: middle-aged man, high blood pressure, stressful job, chest discomfort. The next day, he went to a local emergency department. Doctors determined that the man had not suffered a heart attack and that the electrical activity of his heart was completely normal. All signs suggested that the executive had stable angina—chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle is getting less blood-borne oxygen than it needs, often because an artery is partially blocked.
Two historians weigh in on how to understand the new administration, press relations, and this moment in political time.
The election of Donald Trump, and the early days of his presidency, have driven many Americans to rummage through history in search of context and understanding. Trump himself has been compared to historical figures ranging from Ronald Reagan to Henry Ford, and from Andrew Jackson to Benito Mussolini. His steps have been condemned as unprecedented by his critics, and praised as historic by his supporters.
To place contemporary events in perspective, we turned to a pair of historians of the United States. Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author, most recently, of The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society. Morton Keller is a professor emeritus of history at Brandeis University. He has written or edited more than 15 books, including Obama’s Time: A History. They’ll be exchanging views periodically on how to understand Trump, his presidency, and this moment in political time. —Yoni Appelbaum
A $100 million gangster epic starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci has become too risky a proposition for major studios.
Martin Scorsese’s next project, The Irishman, is as close as you can get to a box-office guarantee for the famed director. It’s a gangster film based on a best-selling book about a mob hitman who claimed to have a part in the legendary disappearance of the union boss Jimmy Hoffa. Robert De Niro is attached to play the hitman, Al Pacino will star as Hoffa, and Scorsese favorites Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel are also on board. After Scorsese branched into more esoteric territory this year with Silence, a meditative exploration of faith and Catholicism, The Irishman sounds like a highly bankable project—the kind studios love. And yet, the film is going to Netflix, which will bankroll its $100 million budget and distribute it around the world on the company’s streaming service.
Consolidated corporate power is keeping many products’ prices high and quality low. Why aren’t more politicians opposing it?
There are many competing interpretations for why Hillary Clinton lost last fall’s election, but most observers do agree that economics played a big role. Clinton simply didn’t articulate a vision compelling enough to compete with Donald Trump’s rousing, if dubious, message that bad trade deals and illegal immigration explain the downward mobility of so many Americans.
As it happens, Clinton did have the germ of exactly such an idea—if one knew where to look. In an October 2015 op-ed, she wrote that “large corporations are concentrating control over markets” and “using their power to raise prices, limit choices for consumers, lower wages for workers, and hold back competition from startups and small businesses. It’s no wonder Americans feel the deck is stacked for those at the top.” In a speech in Toledo last fall, Clinton assailed “old-fashioned monopolies” and vowed to appoint “tough” enforcers “so the big don’t keep getting bigger and bigger.”
“The question confronting us as a nation is as consequential as any we have faced since the late 1940s,” a group of Republican and Democratic experts write.
Ben Rhodes, one of Barack Obama’s top advisers, once dismissed the American foreign-policy establishment—those ex-government officials and think-tank scholars and journalists in Washington, D.C. who advocate for a particular vision of assertive U.S. leadership in the world—as the “Blob.” Donald Trump had harsher words. As a presidential candidate, he vowed never to take advice on international affairs from “those who have perfect resumes but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war.” Both men pointed to one of the Beltway establishment’s more glaring errors: support for the war in Iraq.
Now the Blob is fighting back. The “establishment” has been unfairly “kicked around,” said Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former official in the Reagan administration. As World War II gave way to the Cold War, President Harry Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson, “invented a foreign policy and sold it successfully to the American people. That’s what containment was and that’s what the Truman Doctrine was. … That was the foreign-policy establishment.” During that period, the U.S. government also helped create a system for restoring order to a world riven by war and economic crisis. That system, which evolved over the course of the Cold War and post-Cold War period, includes an open international economy; U.S. military and diplomatic alliances in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; and liberal rules and institutions (human rights, the United Nations, and so on).
In late 2015, in the Chilean desert, astronomers pointed a telescope at a faint, nearby star known as ared dwarf. Amid the star’s dim infrared glow, they spotted periodic dips, a telltale sign that something was passing in front of it, blocking its light every so often. Last summer, the astronomers concluded the mysterious dimming came from three Earth-sized planets—and that they were orbiting in the star’s temperate zone, where temperatures are not too hot, and not too cold, but just right for liquid water, and maybe even life.
This was an important find. Scientists for years had focused on stars like our sun in their search for potentially habitable planets outside our solar system. Red dwarfs, smaller and cooler than the sun, were thought to create inhospitable conditions. They’re also harder to see, detectable by infrared rather than visible light. But the astronomers aimed hundreds of hours worth of observations at this dwarf, known as TRAPPIST-1 anyway, using ground-based telescopes around the world and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.
Neither truck drivers nor bankers would put up with a system like the one that influences medical residents’ schedules.
The path to becoming a doctor is notoriously difficult. Following pre-med studies and four years of medical school, freshly minted M.D.s must spend anywhere from three to seven years (depending on their chosen specialty) training as “residents” at an established teaching hospital. Medical residencies are institutional apprenticeships—and are therefore structured to serve the dual, often dueling, aims of training the profession’s next generation and minding the hospital’s labor needs.
How to manage this tension between “education and service” is a perennial question of residency training, according to Janis Orlowski, the chief health-care officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Orlowski says that the amount of menial labor residents are required to perform, known in the profession as “scut work,” has decreased "tremendously" since she was a resident in the 1980s. But she acknowledges that even "institutions that are committed to education … constantly struggle with this,” trying to stay on the right side of the boundary between training and taking advantage of residents.
Rod Dreher makes a powerful argument for communal religious life in his book, The Benedict Option. But he has not wrestled with how to live side by side with people unlike him.
Donald Trump was elected president with the help of 81 percent of white evangelical voters. Mike Pence, the champion of Indiana’s controversial 2015 religious-freedom law, is his deputy. Neil Gorsuch, a judge deeply sympathetic to religious litigants, will likely be appointed to the Supreme Court. And Republicans hold both chambers of Congress and statehouses across the country. Right now, conservative Christians enjoy more influence on American politics than they have in decades.
And yet, Rod Dreher is terrified.
“Don’t be fooled,” he tells fellow Christians in his new book, The Benedict Option. “The upset presidential victory of Donald Trump has at best given us a bit more time to prepare for the inevitable.”
Plagues, revolutions, massive wars, collapsed states—these are what reliably reduce economic disparities.
Calls to make America great again hark back to a time when income inequality receded even as the economy boomed and the middle class expanded. Yet it is all too easy to forget just how deeply this newfound equality was rooted in the cataclysm of the world wars.
The pressures of total war became a uniquely powerful catalyst of equalizing reform, spurring unionization, extensions of voting rights, and the creation of the welfare state. During and after wartime, aggressive government intervention in the private sector and disruptions to capital holdings wiped out upper-class wealth and funneled resources to workers; even in countries that escaped physical devastation and crippling inflation, marginal tax rates surged upward. Concentrated for the most part between 1914 and 1945, this “Great Compression” (as economists call it) of inequality took several more decades to fully run its course across the developed world until the 1970s and 1980s, when it stalled and began to go into reverse.
The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.
It’s 2021, and President Donald Trump will shortly be sworn in for his second term. The 45th president has visibly aged over the past four years. He rests heavily on his daughter Ivanka’s arm during his infrequent public appearances.
Fortunately for him, he did not need to campaign hard for reelection. His has been a popular presidency: Big tax cuts, big spending, and big deficits have worked their familiar expansive magic. Wages have grown strongly in the Trump years, especially for men without a college degree, even if rising inflation is beginning to bite into the gains. The president’s supporters credit his restrictive immigration policies and his TrumpWorks infrastructure program.
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