Rupert Murdoch 'Not A Fit Person' to Run Major Company

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman, this is The World. Rupert Murdoch is unfit to run a major international company, that's the finding of a British parliamentary committee. The 81-year-old head of News International was accused of willful blindness of the phone hacking scandal that engulfed the company's British tabloid paper, The News of the World. The committee also slammed his son, James Murdoch, plus other executives and corporate lawyers, but the committee was divided. The BBC's Paddy O'Connell is in London. Paddy, how much trouble is the New International team actually in? Will the Murdochs serve time?

Paddy O'Connell: No, that's not on the cards, but they're in a lot of trouble. This has been a gaping wound for the company in the UK, and it's also been embarrassing for the establishment in the UK. It has shown how power was pedaled between newspaper barons and those who ran the country, basically speaking. The prime minister has been forced to admit that politicians have been too close to the Murdoch family. Everyone in the political class has been arguing, and now we have a report that says that one of the world's best known businessman, who has media interests across the United States, is not fit to run an international company. That's what the lawmakers have said, and as you've pointed out, in a contested majority verdict.

Werman: Well if not jail time, executives can always be hit where it hurts, the bottom line. How might this affect the Murdoch's business empire?

O'Connell: Well this could affect them because we have a regulator here that could say they're gonna have to retreat from their television interests, but there's another interesting thing as well. Two former executives were also names, Colin Mylar, who's currently the editor of the New York Daily News, and Les Hinton who was the former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, two huge US titles. Now, if I read it right, the MPs are so annoyed with them that they could be called before parliament to make a personal apology, that's what could happen to those two guys. Colin Mylar has issued a statement saying he maintained he'd given accurate and consistent evidence and that he expected to be cleared by the police here.

Werman: Paddy, you've worked here in the US in journalism, you know the foibles of the journalism system here. When you try to explain to your American friends the relevance of the phone hacking scandal in the UK and the Murdochs' hyper ambition, what do you tell them?

O'Connell: I think you've got to boil it down and be really quite mean. We know that in the US there's a polarized media. I can ring friends of mine and they say that public radio which you and I love is full of pinkos. And I can ring other friends who say that thank the lord for Fox News which delivers its clear message of truth. Now what's happening over here is that we have a guy who has influenced the way we consume the media. He's the way most people in Britain have new television channels. If it had been left up to the BBC there'd probably only be about four channels. Rupert Murdoch and his business transformed the media environment. Now, as it went on, his newspapers, which he owned, behaved disgracefully hacking into the telephone of a dead girl. Now public was so shocked that they asked how did these stories we've been reading in our tabloids, how did they come about? So that displays British hypocrisy, we always knew there were underhanded tactics, but now it's in the public. The newspaper had to close that particular title. When they did the clearing up operation they found out that the man at the top had to answer what did you know and when did you know it? And that question has in the eyes of the MPs today not been answered as fully as Mr. Murdoch said he answered it.

Werman: Paddy O'Connell, host of the BBC news program, Broadcasting House, speaking with us from London about the latest in the phone hacking scandal which now seems to be the Rupert Murdoch scandal. Paddy, thanks so much for breaking it down.

O'Connell: Thanks for having me.