In a move that clearly indicates just how seriously Rupert Murdoch takes the phone hacking scandal, News Corp has withdrawn its bid for BSkyB. From the Independent:
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation withdrew its BSkyB takeover bid today as David Cameron announced details of the independent inquiry into phone hacking.
The media company announced it was pulling out of its proposed buy-out of the satellite broadcaster after the Prime Minister joined calls last night for it to drop the plans.
Now that Murdoch has lost credibility in the eyes of the public, the Labour and Liberal Democrat Party, and now the Conservatives, he will face an almost impossible task of rebuilding his brand in Britain. Murdoch has expertly navigated the political and corporate world for decades, amassing a giant fortune and virtually unimpeachable power. He now faces the prospect of his empire crumbling from within, and it will be fascinating to see how he deals with the crisis that seems to get worse and worse by the day.
It is worth remembering though, that Murdoch is a master of the dark arts and rose to the top for good reason. As Tina Brown writes:
Murdoch is endlessly fascinating to watch because his talents and brilliance are equaled only by his amorality. His enthrallment of media culture persists because he is so good at what he does. His rivals disgrace themselves by trying to emulate him, but his newspapers have more brio, more edge, more connective excitement than theirs do—and therefore more readers. His Fox News Channel is a shark-toothed star machine leaving its cable competitors in the dust. He takes big risks, makes big bets on big visions, then waits for the result like a poker player, prepared to stay at the table losing money until his bet pays off.
Those who know Murdoch and have studied his rise to power know too well his ability to weather storms and hold his nerve. Murdoch usually gets what he wants because he is willing to go further than anyone else to get it.
But while it is too early to write him off completely, the toxic mix of systemic corruption and massive public resentment may be too much for the old fox to come back from. The sheer vileness of the hacking scandal that included listening to a child murder victim’s voicemail and going through the former Prime Minister’s sick child’s health records has imprinted an unforgettable image in the public’s mind. And at 80, Murdoch may not have enough time left to wait it out.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.