News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch is back in London testifying in the ongoing phone-hacking scandal, and the focus has shifted from interception of voicemails by News Corp.-owned tabloids to the influence the company has wielded in the British government, MSNBC.com reports.
The website reported this morning: “Under oath, Murdoch faced detailed scrutiny about his relationship with politicians stretching back decades. Over the coming hours, he is also expected to be asked questions over how the phone hacking came about.
“He began by acknowledging the role of the inquiry, saying: ‘There have been some abuses shown. … The state of the media in this country is of absolutely vital interest to all its citizens. … Frankly I welcome the opportunity because I wanted to put some myths to bed.’"
The testimony is part of a public inquiry set up by Prime Minister David Cameron, who appointed Judge Brian Leveson to head up this phase of the probe.
Murdoch testified: "I’ve never asked a prime minister for anything," he said. "We all like to back the winning race horse. We like to be on the winning side. I’m trying to think when we didn’t. It’s certainly true the last election in America, The Wall Street Journal and New York Post opposed the almost certain victory of President Obama. … We work on the same principles everywhere. We try to judge the candidates on the issues."
The story reports: “Questioned about his influence on the political stance of his British newspapers, Murdoch insisted he did not tell editors which party to back in elections but admitted having regular conversations with them. He said: ‘I’m a curious person, interested in great issues of the day, and I’m not good at holding my tongue. It is only natural for politicians to reach out to editors and sometimes proprietors, if they are available, to explain what they are doing and hoping that it makes an impression. But I was only one of several.’"
Murdoch faced an earlier high-profile grilling on the phone-hacking scandal back in July 2011, when he testified before Parliament. His son, James Murdoch, has also been in the hot seat in both rounds, including testifying Tuesday.
The story adds: “Shareholders in News Corp. will be looking very closely at what sort of performance the 81-year-old puts up. His task at the inquiry is to defend the world’s second largest media company — and, with it, his own reputation.”
Here’s a video report on the testimony: