Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Wizard of Oz stays behind the News Corp curtain

So the big day came and went, and the highlight of the Murdoch's appearance in front of MPs was "Tiger Woman" Wendi Deng who sprang to her husband's defence in the face of a foam pie assault. I hear that the clip of her one-person rapid reaction force has now been watched tens of millions of times in China.

Alas, that will be the memory of the day for many. We learned little of what really went on in News Corp, or News International, which are apparently run by a father and son team, one of whom is confused and amnesiac, the other puzzled and unaware. It was hard to reconcile their demeanour with the power that both still wield in the tangled worlds of media and politics.



So was it all an act? To a large degree, I suspect it was. Not only was Wendi Deng sitting behind her husband and stepson, but a slight, balding man called Joe Klein was also keeping a close eye on things. He was taken on only last year by the Murdochs, and is a serious political and legal player. He was the man behind Bill Clinton during the Whitewater scandal and a few other local difficulties. He joined News Corp after a stint running the New York School system, after getting a call from Mayor Bloomberg. When there's a tricky problem, Mr Klein is the man that big-hitters turn to for advice.

Naturally, both James and Rupert Murdoch have received media coaching in advance of their appearance. The signs were clear, from the way both responded to questions. They had been given a few key phrases and gestures to use, not to mention advice on body language. The initial exchanges, where Rupert Murdoch interrupted his son to say "This is the most humble day of my life", were choreographed. That phrase was designed to become a headline, and did, all around the world. (Of course, it later became "Humble Pie")

Overall, little light was shed on the goings-on anywhere in the huge media empire. The Wizard of Oz has not come out from behind the curtain.

2 comments:

Ian R McAllister said...

Yes, bit of a let down, and when a right hook from Wendi Deng makes the headlines, its sums it up.

But two things came out:
1. No more do our political glitterati need to kowtow to a dodery old man of 80, whos own shareholders must be asking how many more minutes he needs to hold onto the Chairman's job for, let starting the search for a new CEO
2. However styalised the performance, its started a reaction down the timeline. Already former employees and legal representatives are questioning the evidence, with statements based on timeline inaccuracies. You can see why this is going to take a while

One of those moments in history that wasn't, but in sublety was: taxi for Murdoch, its now just a question of its transport for one or two?

Alan Stevens said...

Ian,

Thanks for your comment. I agree with your analysis. I suspect the cab is already on the way for Murdoch Snr, though Junior must be looking over his shoulder for Knacker of the Yard too.

Alan