With James Murdoch being pursued for allegedly lying to the British Parliament, and his father Rupert on the ropes and refusing to accept any responsibility for the mess his company has created, at least one prominent writer for The New York Times is predicting the downfall of both men.
“Mr. Murdoch is suddenly, deeply mortal,” wrote David Carr in Sunday’s media and advertising section. “And the questions that I am asking will be asked by others as well. It’s not just James who is done. Rupert Murdoch, as we have long known him, is done as well.”
Amid the scandals caused by his British newspapers’ phone hacking and bribery schemes, the elder Murdoch has continued to insist he will not resign as the company’s CEO. Still, despite his public position, Carr writes that the board of News Corporation will likely wish to see him step down and take over as chairman, bringing in someone else to run the embattled company.
But that’s not likely to happen for at least six months to a year. “Rupert would never do that at the point of gun,” an unnamed source close to Murdoch told Carr.
As for James Murdoch, the leader of News International, his quagmire in Parliament looks only to deepen now that Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted that he return to answer more questions.
In his initial round of questioning, James told members of Parliament that he had not seen a 2008 email which indicated the hacking scandal was more widespread than the company originally said. In the following days, two former News Corp. employees publicly contradicted him, claiming his testimony was incorrect and that he had seen the email before authorizing a settlement payment to one of their victims.
James signed off on the payment, coming in at $1.1 million, shortly after taking over News International in 2008.
If he did not know about why he was signing off on the payment, his competence as a businessman might come into question for investors — but if he’s revealed to have known about the email and lied to Parliament about it, James could be forced out entirely.
“Rupert has his own protective streak when it comes to his family, and has gone to great lengths to make them central to the News Corporation’s success structure,” Carr wrote. “But what his sons and daughters could soon find out is that if Mr. Murdoch is forced to choose between the family and the company he has built, he will choose the News Corporation.”
Members of Parliament are expected to discuss what to do about the conflict in James’s testimony during a committee meeting on Friday.