It’s true that I have been banging on for a very long time about the Murdoch hegemony in this country; and their influence on our government, society and culture. And it is also true that that I wouldn’t trust James Murdoch as far as I could throw him: which is no distance at all.
But I am inclined to believe his evidence to the committee yesterday, because I have seen at first hand the cavalier attitude of chief executives to the everyday detail of running an organisation. As we have noted before on these pages, there is a don’t-bother-me-with-that culture at the top of many of our corporations and, indeed, at the top of many of our government departments.
There is also, of course, the fact that Murdoch’s accusers are a former News of the World journalist and editor (obviously completely trustworthy) and a corporate lawyer working for News International (surely beyond suspicion).
But it is the former point that inclines me to believe Murdoch.
I find it credible that he had no interest in reading the so-called ‘for Neville’ e-mail. I find it completely plausible that he did not read News International’s QC’s judgement that there was a “culture of illegal information access” at the News of the World.
Why should he bother himself with such detail? After all, he was only signing off on a payment of £755,000 to Gordon Taylor. An executive summary, delivered by Crone (lawyer) and Myler (journalist), in the course of a 10 minute meeting, is surely enough to nod through such a paltry payment.
Because, in Murdoch's world, three quarters of a million is fuck-all.
Murdoch, unlike his father, is not a newspaper man. He is a corporate robot. The newspapers he controlled were merely products, and the way in which they went about producing those products (computer- and phone-hacking for example) were of no interest to him at all. His role was to ensure the bottom line: for himself, his father, his shareholders.
It is pointless and absurd to accuse him of being a mafia don. He is – simply and exclusively – the executive chairman of a multi-national company. Like Fred Goodwin at RBS, he can do what he wants and not do what he wants.
Have you read the stuff that’s emerging from the Abramovich trial? Murdoch is merely millions where Abramovich is billions. But it’s the same difference.
This is the way of the world. It’s called capitalism.
Today’s listening: Shostakovich, Symphony #9, Kyril Kondrashin + the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.