The Murdochs Under Fire

Welcome back!
So, if you think the heat wave is getting to you, imagine what it's been like for Rupert and James Murdoch?! The newspaper baron and his son just underwent a scorching few hours of testimony before a British Parliamentary Committee and emerged relatively unscathed. How have the Murdochs and his News Corp. company been handling the crisis so far? In this posting we will take a look and assign a 'grade' to them.
But first allow me to catch up on some personal news....
Joseph T. Whelan, R.I.P.
Laura and I have just returned from Troy, Michigan where we attended the funeral services for my very close friend since our time together at the Kennedy School, Best Man at our wedding, and godfather to our daughter Caroline, Joe Whelan. Following a long struggle with serious health issues, Joe finally succumbed at the age of 56, on July 14th - leaving behind his terrific wife, Kim, and their four beautiful young children. I had the honor of being asked to speak at the visitation service the night before the funeral and I recalled the unique, witty and brilliant Irish-American that Joe was. For any of our mutual friends, if you'd care for a copy of my remarks, drop me a line and I will send it to you. Better yet, say a prayer, raise a glass, or do a good deed in honor of Joe, who did so much for others -notably Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago. 
The Murdochs' Lurch from Crisis to Damage Control
Murdochs Face the Music
I was interviewed this week on CTV News Channel on the blossoming crisis facing the Murdochs. I dashed over from Troy MI to Windsor, did the interview at the Windsor CTV station and was back in Troy within the hour. Much has been written and broadcast about the newspaper hacking scandal over in Britain involving News of the World and the journalists there who engaged in shoddy - likely criminal - conduct involving breaking into the voice mails of politicians, celebrities and in one particularly outrageous instance - the voice mail of a young murder victim. Throw in pay-offs to police and cozying up to politicians and the Murdochs have found themselves closing down the highly profitable newspaper and shutting down their efforts to buy the remaining shares in the satellite company BSkyB that they don't already own.
So what did the Murdochs do? Throw the highly profitable News of the World over the side - hoping against hope that they could keep their BSkyB plan alive. Exactly the opposite of what they should have done. They were forced to abandon the BSkyB effort only a few days later anyway and the only result of closing down the admittedly damaged News of the World was to send their share price tumbling worldwide. Hmm....

David Cameron Under Fire
David Cameron Fights Back
Throw in the connection to Prime Minister David Cameron who made the mistake of hiring former editor Andy Coulson who had assured him and the public that he had nothing to do with illegal practices. Finally, he admitted, only this week, that he had made a mistake "with 20/20 hindsight". Ya think? However, after cutting short an African trip he faced down the Opposition during 'Prime Minister's Questions' and comported himself well. So, perhaps, now he has found his footing on the issue, and must hope that it will gradually cool down from the present red-hot fire that threatens to engulf his government.

Parliamentary Grilling and a 'Pie' in the Face
As we coach people to appear before Parliamentary and legislative committees, I was most interested in how the Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks would do when they were brought before the British Parliamentary Committee on Tuesday.
So how did the Murdochs do? James Murdoch held his own - probably saving his job, as he outshone his father - coming across as solid and grounded, when only a few days ago the rumors were rampant that he was to be sacrificed. Rupert started slow and scripted but gradually loosened up. His biggest negative came when he was asked if he accepts responsibility for what happened and he said no - it was those who did these despicable things and the people they report to who should accept the blame. Not exactly classic leadership and the air went out of the balloon for him on that one.
The entire focus shifted, however, when an activist/'comedian' rushed forward with a plate of shaving cream and tried to 'pie' Rupert. In what became the news story, Wendi Deng Murdoch, Rupert's wife, leaped forward and landed a right-handed punch on the wacko [more like a volleyball smackdown than a 'left hook' as one MP later said admiringly]. Sometimes you just get lucky!
The hacking scandal is far from over, and the Murdochs have hired crisis managers in London, New York and Washington to do damage control. Perhaps now, they can begin to get on a solid footing and get this nightmare behind them.

Until next time...stay cool!