Lessons in Working Both Sides of the Story by Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch’s appearance in front of the Cultural, Media and Sports select committee contained a great demonstration of the way he dictates to newspaper editors.

On one hand he instructed the committee, as though they were a Rebekah Brooks, to remember that the NoW was “less than one percent of his business.”

On the other hand, he said, a newspaper represents the way he wants to “do some good.” Familiar to some?

Imagine you’re the editor of one of his newspapers. Which way do you cover the NoW story? Do you say it’s a drop in the Murdoch ocean? Or do you say you’re very, very sorry?

The NoW was conveniently small in business terms, but how large was it when he wanted to put across his world view? And it all depended on which question the committee asked him.

So can he remember details of the “NoW collective amnesia” trial? No, not surprisingly:

“You have to remember it’s a very small part of my business”.

But when asked, “What are your boundaries of legitimate investigation?” out came a familiar Murdoch-penned editorial on the expenses scandal:

“The most open and clear society in the world is Singapore,” says Murdoch senior using his dictating voice. “Every minister receives at least a million dollars a year and the PM more. The cleanest society you’ll find anywhere. It’s ridiculous that people were reduced to doing what they did.”

The Telegraph, of course, bought the stolen goods and blew the lid on the expenses scandal. Presumably Murdoch rejected it, and now we know why. He simply didn’t agree with it. After all, he wanted BSykB and he had to be nice to politicians to get it.

The select committee should have reminded him that the hearing wasn’t about his business. It was about a rich man’s desire to dictate the way the media is run.

“It’s very difficult in the UK,” said Murdoch with a resigned look on his face.

Maybe after all this, which of course only affects less than one percent of his business, he’ll give up trying to dictate to us, although if you’re still buying a Murdoch title after this demonstration in dictatorial ownership, you can expect more on how wonderful Singapore is. Much more I guess.

The NoW hacking scandal should serve as a warning to his remaining UK titles that proprietorial ownership can have dire consequences.