The hunter has now become the hunted. Rebekah Brooks, who must have sent wave after wave of tabloid hacks to doorstep the rich and famous while editor of the Sun and News of the World, is now getting some of her own medicine.
But as the media spotlight on her continues to burn brightly, she has finally resigned declaring she no longer wants to be the “focal point of the debate” surrounding the future of Murdoch’s much maligned media empire. Oh, how the world must be shedding a tear for her.
It is not yet clear why Brooks’ resignation was suddenly accepted by Murdoch. The media tycoon had stood steadfastly by her despite calls from politicians and the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler for her to go.
So why has Brooks finally been allowed to fall on her own sword, a week after the innocent employees of the now defunct News of the World were given their marching orders even though they were not involved in the phone hacking crisis?
It is clear that Brook’s beeline to the exit door early today shows that Murdoch in no longer calling all the shots.
The Saudi investor that owns 7pc of News Corporation, Prince al-Waleed bin Talal al Saud, told Newsnight: “I will not accept to deal with a company that has a lady or a man that has any sliver of doubts on her integrity”.
Even Murdoch’s own daughter Elisabeth sees the writing on the wall and told friends that Brooks had “f***** the company.” But she should not be cast as some kind of a scapegoat in this ugly drama.
Murdoch’s main problem is he is out of touch and floundering to deal with the crisis because he is trying to play the new media game using old media rules.
In the heyday of the traditional press, such a crisis would have been a slow-burning affair, each installment of which would have been exposed each day to meet the cycle of daily print deadlines. Now that this 24-hour news cycle no longer exists, the 24/7 media, fuelled by the Internet and social media, hungrily mauls over the minutiae minute-by-minute and hour-by-hour.
So, dramatically grand gestures like the closing of the News of the World or the arrival of Murdoch to London to sort this mess out, no longer frame headlines that last throughout the day and set the 24-hour news agenda in stone. Now, such transparent and self-serving gestures are picked apart and often raise more questions than answers.
Murdoch’s outmoded approach is seeing the sandal unraveling like a slowly peeling onion causing plenty of tears for all concerned.
Even more bizarre is Murdoch’s astonishing latest defense of the News International phone hacking scandal claiming that the company only made “minor mistakes.”
Now as the 80-year-old gets set to face the music along with his son James, also implicated after he authorized the enormous payoffs to News of the World phone-hacking victims, in front of Tuesday’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting, it no doubt will be the most viewed select committee the British parliament has ever seen.
Murdoch says he wants to use the opportunity to address “some of the things that have been said in parliament, some of which are total lies.” Given the lies that his papers have spun over the years his statement is beyond laughable.
However, while his appearance on Tuesday will no doubt provide great theatre, the far more serious threat to his future comes from the FBI investigation into allegations News Corp sought to hack into the phones of September 11 victims.
Just like The Sun newspaper is still shunned in Liverpool after the lies it printed regarding the Hillsborough disaster, if America feels Murdoch’s media tried to meddle in the mourning of the victims of 9/11 his days as top media dog will no doubt be numbered.
*Paul Allen, is Managing Director of Paul Allen and Associates PR, www.prireland.com.
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