Rupert Murdoch Breaks His Silence

He says News Corp. handled the scandal 'extremely well'

For the first time since the News of the World hacking scandal exploded earlier this month, Rupert Murdoch is talking. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, which his News Corp. just happens to own, Murdoch “vigorously” defended his company’s handling of the crisis and said that it would establish an independent committee to investigate the matter, led by a “distinguished nonemployee.” It will also create a new “protocol for behavior” for reporters.

Murdoch said that News Corp., a target of public outrage and government investigations in both the U.K. and U.S., has handled the hacking scandal “extremely well in every way possible” and only made “minor mistakes.” He also expressed confidence in the company’s future, saying that the current crisis is “nothing that will not be recovered. We have a reputation of great good works in this country.”

Earlier today, Murdoch said that he was planning to testify before Parliament, following his initial refusal to do so. “Some of the things that have been said in Parliament, some of which are total lies,” he said. “We think it's important to absolutely establish our integrity in the eyes of the public . . . I felt that it's best just to be as transparent as possible.” He also called former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s claims that his own phones were hacked by News International “entirely wrong,” adding that he had been friends with the Browns until News Corp.’s Sun tabloid withdrew its support for Brown’s Labour party before the last election.

Now that the company has dropped its proposed BSkyB takeover, Murdoch said, it’s focused on “buying back shares and looking for better places to put our money.” He called rumors that News Corp. is considering dropping its newspaper assets “pure rubbish. Pure and total rubbish,” telling the reporter to “give it the strongest possible denial you can give.”

When questioned about his son James, who has been criticized for poorly handling the scandal, Murdoch said, “I think he acted as fast as he could, the moment he could.” As for Murdoch’s own personal feelings about the affair, he said that he’s “just getting annoyed. I'll get over it. I'm tired.”