UK MPs: Rupert Murdoch is "not a fit person" to run an international corporation

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64 Responses to “UK MPs: Rupert Murdoch is "not a fit person" to run an international corporation”

  1. Guest says:

    I think he is really fit; but my gosh, don’t he just know it. 

  2. Snig says:

    Was going to do the Nelson Muntz “Ha Ha”, but then I remembered he gets a nickel every time it’s used.  

  3. royaltrux says:

    I would love to see his whole propaganda empire crumble.

  4. PathosBill says:

    As much as I don’t want to defend this guy, we all know politicians’ propensity for grandstanding and following popular sentiment when they think it behooves them. I’m not sure how much salt to take this with.

    • Guest says:

      I feel that exact way about your comment.

    • Wreckrob8 says:

      Damn the lot of them. It is not so long ago that Murdoch was a very fit guest at Downing Street. Rats and sinking ships spring to mind.

      • EH says:

        Exactly! You see, all of a sudden, Rupert’s not fit to run a “big” company!

        Let’s see what the report on police and government complicity has to say about fitness. Oh, there isn’t going to be one? Shocker.

    • Faustus says:

      Yes but this politician (and the others that voted to issue this statement) sit on a committee formed to investigate media ethics. So his voice carries a little bit more weight about the issue.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Analysis of the news has forced me to the conclusion that politicians (and captains of industry) can be simultaneously guilty and railroaded.

  5. helleman says:

    Since when does fitness matter?   There are lots of scumbags running businesses out there, so what?    The only thing that matters is – Did he break the law?  Do Laws need to be changed to make certain practices illegal?   Everything else is … as the Brits say … wanking.

    • Guest says:

       You’re assuming american style freedom of the press. and wanking.

    • Faustus says:

      Our media regulator in the UK Ofcom requires the owners of newspapers/tv stations etc to be “fit and proper persons”. Hence if he is unfit, he will have to sell all his newspapers and tv stations in the UK.

      • helleman says:

        Thanks for the further explanation of the meaning of fitness in the UK legal context.   Interesting premise now that I look into it.   But Guess what…  

        “Unfortunately, the Broadcasting Act 1990 (which is where this requirement comes from) does not explain what is meant by “fit and proper”, and there is no guidance on the term.
        Ultimately, therefore, Ofcom has the discretion to decide who may get a licence. This has the potential to open a Pandora’s box.”

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/jul/07/bskyb-bid-ofcom-fit-and-proper

        WANKERS.  I hate meaningless and toothless laws.

    • Stooge says:

      Since when does fitness matter?

      Since December 1 1990.
      Section 3(3) of the 1990 Broadcasting Act requires it of anyone who is to receive a broadcasting license.

      • Keith Tyler says:

         Responsibility in informing the public? Fucking concept!

        (The US used to have the Fairness Doctrine. Conservative liemongers hated it.)

      • helleman says:

         My point exactly.   The question is – can they make it stick – within the legal frameworks THEY have created.   If not…. still wanking.

  6. heng says:

    As much as I dislike News International, this whole thing is interesting because it demonstrates how little politicians get effective management. They seemingly expect chief execs to micro-manage every employee in a company.

    I’m not saying there weren’t serious cultural issues here, but in a well run organisation, it’s very common for the top guys to not have a clue about the details of what’s happening beneath them. No longer can the guy at the top do the jobs of everybody beneath them. That attitude rightly belongs in the 19th century.

    • wysinwyg says:

      News International has the legal standing of a person, and this “person” committed crimes.  Now, I understand that the whole point of a limited liability corporation is to try to prevent business owners from being held accountable for crimes committed in service to the business, but I personally think this is a bad thing.  The way to stop it is to hold executives accountable when their firms commit criminal wrongdoing.

      You may be right that an executive can’t know everything all the company’s employees are doing, but if the executive is doing his job right then there should be enough governance and oversight within the company to prevent criminal wrongdoing.  That there wasn’t in this case is an indictment of either Murdock’s competence or morals.  Either way, the MP’s are right: not fit to run a news organization.

      @boingboing-cb1ff3a993b6d96808c89ef43afdb8a1:disqus
      My response is to you as well.  Even if Murdock didn’t specifically break the law, his company did and the people in charge of the company should be held accountable for that.

      • heng says:

        Is it true that a company is legally a person under UK law? If it is, then _that_ is a bad thing.

        The problem with the point you make (and the problem with the views I placed in the mouths of the politicians) is that it’s based on the idea that “heads should roll” whenever there is a cock-up (and by this, I mean heads beyond those directly responsible).

        There is a whole debate to be had regarding corporate responsibility and the alignment of the motives of corporations with societies, but within the framework that exists, sometimes people just are criminals, and it’s not necessarily the man and the top’s fault.

        Corporations are just little chunks of society, and that’s reflected in what happens inside them. Of course, the culture is important and arguably _that_ is what Murdock is responsible for (to the point of not being fit to govern). He may also have been directly responsible. Anyway, the point is not really about News International, but about how business management is viewed by politicians.

        • wysinwyg says:

          There is a whole debate to be had regarding corporate responsibility and the alignment of the motives of corporations with societies, but within the framework that exists, sometimes people just are criminals, and it’s not necessarily the man and the top’s fault.

          Not his fault, but still his responsibility.  Like the phrase “the buck stops here.”  There is a guy in charge, and when something goes wrong it is ultimately that guy’s responsibility.

          Again, either Murdoch can’t prevent his employees from engaging in criminal wrongdoing (incompetence) or won’t (immorality).  Either way he’s ultimately responsible for this mess.  If he didn’t want to be responsible he would put someone else in charge.

          I’m having trouble tracking down a citation on whether corporate personhood applies in the UK, but I only meant in the limited sense of “fictional person,” i.e. a company can be sued like a person or charged with a crime like a person.  Not necessarily like the US Citizen’s United ruling that also gave corporations civil rights.

          • heng says:

             I’d actually say that it shouldn’t be his responsibility. What I’m trying to get at is that organisations should not be treated as a homogeneous entity, but as a collection of individuals all of whom should take responsibility for themselves and their own actions. This is absolutely in contrast to the view that companies are legal entities in their own right.

            This is actually much more in keeping with modern management styles.

            I actually hadn’t noted this before, though I had considered that there was a tension between the view that employees should be autonomous and the view that CEOs should take responsibility for everything that gets done.

          • wysinwyg says:

            @openid-120721:disqus
            That would be a serious source of moral hazard.  “Actually much more in keeping with modern management styles” — that’s a bad thing from my perspective.  Did you notice where modern management styles have gotten us?

            “Do this illegal thing or you’re fired.”  And then the only person the government can hold accountable for the illegal action is the underling who is being blackmailed into doing it. 

            Holding executives and managers responsible when their underlings break the law isn’t treating the organization as a “homogenous entity.”  Entirely the opposite.  It’s treating the organization as a hierarchical entity which is exactly what it is.  I think you’re pretty much exactly wrong on this issue.

            Edit: I’m referring to the banking crisis among other things. There are factors besides poor management that contributed but downplaying the contribution of poor management doesn’t help make the situation any clearer. Specifically, it’s rather obvious that executive compensation was incentivizing risky and illegal behavior. And this is yet another reason executives should be held accountable when their firms commit criminal acts.

            When you say “deeper issues behing that” you sound like a conspiracy theorist hinting at some singular hidden cause of the thing. There was no one cause, there were many preconditions. Bad management in the mortgage and financial industries constitute some of the more important of those preconditions.

            But by all means, share what you think caused the financial crisis. Let’s see what else you can do to try to get the people in charge off the hook.

          • heng says:

            @wysinwyg
            I guess you’re making some allusion to the banking crisis? There are deeper issues behind that than simply bad management.

        • KanedaJones says:

          My brother in law defends large CEO salaries by claiming that they take responsibility for the company all the way down to the bottom.  Aside from me telling him he’s full of it, the other fact of that is that if that were true then YES Rupert heads should roll.

          • heng says:

            Well, I wouldn’t defend large CEO salaries :) Perhaps the solution is to pay them something more commensurate with their usefulness in the organisation (from the perspective of society). The point is that in a large organisation, they actually have very little control beyond hiring and firing people to whom they delegate or not. Make a mess of that, and it’s reflected in the culture and debacles like we observed with News International.

            Paying them less would mean that perhaps they are not so responsible for people under them and individuals can take responsibility for their own actions.

            I genuinely think there is *much* wrong with big business, but it’s not dealt with by making CEOs (in the most general and vague sense) the scapegoats.

      • Gunker says:

        And people in control of the companies where charged.

    • Stooge says:

      That sounds rather like a straw man. Murdoch’s not been accused of not knowing what every single employee was doing, he’s accused of being unwilling or unable to find out the extent of criminal activity within his organisation when its existence was pointed out to him.
      “All the people I hired lied to me” is not the sort of thing an efficient or competent manager would ever need to say

      • heng says:

         I’m not defending Murdoch, merely highlighting that politicians are not renowned for their appreciation of the real world!

        • LordBlagger says:

          Correct. 

          Ask anyone of them the level of state debt in the UK. 

          Most thing the deficit = debt.

          Then the others might thing debt = gilts. 

          None of them will admit to the true level of debts, which includes pensions. 

          Reason, that brings the house down. 

          So they would rather go one about Murdoch as revenge against the press for revealing their expenses frauds. 

      • Keith Tyler says:

        “I’m a gullible pushover, now can I get back to my yacht?”

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Yup. It’s called due diligence, a rather important principle in assessing liability and culpability.

    • sisyphus321 says:

      It’s Murdoch’s company, and he sets expectations (either explicitly or implicitly) for his subordinates. If he isn’t the one setting the expectation that employees should behave in at least a marginally ethical way, then exactly on whom does that responsibility fall? Has Mudoch followed-up by issuing any proclamations about ethical behavior, and has he actually canned anyone for acting unethically? The fact that Fox News is still broadcasting indicates that the answer to at least my second question is “no”.

       Heng is entirely too generous in letting Murdoch off the hook for actions of subordinates at News International.

      • heng says:

         Why do you assume I’m letting Murdoch of the hook? I’m hugely confident that News International is an immoral organisation and the world would be better off without it. My point was not about this specific case but about politicians in general.

  7. Guest says:

    They really are washing up on your shores today BB. I think the call must have gone out. Keyboard Kommandoes unite! 

  8. ChicagoD says:

    Wait. NOW they think he’s “unfit?” He’s been an a-hole for decades.

    • ocker3 says:

       This time it’s just too big to ignore, and there’s enough of a groundswell of opinion that the Pols can just say “all of my constituents insisted” so they don’t have to honour their old debts to that guy whom I’m still sad to say owns the majority of media in Australia.

  9. LordBlagger says:

    The cross-party group of MPs said that Les Hinton, the former executive chairman of News International, was “complicit” in a cover-up at the newspaper group, and that Colin Myler, former editor of the News of the World, and the paper’s ex-head of legal, Tom Crone, deliberately withheld crucial information and answered questions falsely. All three were accused of misleading parliament by the culture select committee.
    Rupert Murdoch, the document said, “did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking” and “turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications”.

    ===========

    What a subtlely biased article. 

    Take the first paragraph. That is what the report did say, and it was agreed by the MPs on the commitee

    The second bit comes from Tom Watson, who isn’t exactly unbiased, and is plugging a book. That was opposed by lots of MPs on the committee.  It’s been leaked in advance of the publication, which is against the rules. 
    By omitting the split on the second part, the impression is given that it was all MPs who concluded this. It wasn’t.
    Just as bad as lots of other things.
    Notice too, that policemen and civil servants were on the take. Corruption. Not a peep there.
    It’s all about the politics. Tom Watson is just doing Brown’s dirty work. When the Prime Minister decides “to go to war on you”, don’t believe a word of what his foot soldiers say. 

  10. Matt Owen says:

    I think in many ways this is a case of pot calling kettle, but political opinion aside, the public office has no power to decide the managerial structure of a private organisation, so the real question is: So what? 

    What effect will this have on Murdoch? I’m thinking… nothing really. It’s fairly obvious that senior NewsInt members were well aware (and often instigated) the illegal practices that have come up, but will anyone really pay for this? Will it result in NI crumbling? Will all of Murdoch’s interests in the UK be closed down? Will Murdoch senior/Junior heading off behind bars? No. A few henchmen might suffer a bit, but… so? 

    So this headline could read: Men call Men out. Men don’t care. 

    • Faustus says:

      In the UK politicians do have the right to decide the managerial structure of media companies to an extent. Media companies are regulated by a body called Ofcom which is supposedly independent but I’m sure would take the governments recommendations into account, it has to decide if someone is a ‘fit and proper person’ to own a media company that operates in the UK.  The idea being that if they’re not, then they have to sell up.

      Edit: or stop operating in the UK

      • Matt Owen says:

        Yes agreed, I’m in the UK so aware of OfCom, so should have been clearer sorry. They are a nice idea in principle but I think their powers would be very limited here. In this case I can’t see that it matters. It’s not as though SKY will suddenly get told to bugger off (which I suppose would create a monopoly for Virgin technically…) .  IMO the whole thing is a bit of a sideshow. I doubt it will have any real effect on operating practices in the tabloid press.

        • Stooge says:

          Sky won’t get told to bugger off, they’ll get told to appoint fit and proper directors or bugger off. Perhaps there’s an abundance of News Corp shareholders who are prepared to hang on to Murdoch at the expense of their highly lucrative stakes in British broadcasting, but I doubt it.

        • Stuart says:

          You’re right it won’t just disappear, it’s the biggest broadcasting organisation in the UK (a lot bigger than the BBC – a lot of that has been privatised) . No part of government would want to axe that many jobs, knacker the broadcasting industry and bankrupt all the football clubs.

      • Stuart says:

        The broadcasting regulators over the years have demanded Murdoch divests in TV companies a number of times before:

        LWT in 1971, ONdigital in 1997 and ITV in 2009

  11. iCowboy says:

    Worth pointing out that none of the Conservatives on the committee agreed with the conclusion that Murdoch was unfit to run a business. Bearing in mind the situation the PM finds himself in with regards to the Culture Secretary and his ex-spokesman, it’s hard not to conclude that they don’t want to come down too hard on their party’s links with News International.

    Not that Labour have much to be proud of. There’s a reason that the 2003 law which allows newspaper companies to buy terrestrial broadcasters is known as ‘The Murdoch Clause’. And strangely enough it was enacted just after Tessa Jowell and Tony Blair were wined and dined by the Murdochs.

  12. Keith Tyler says:

    No one has remarked on it so far, but it’s a worthwhile point IMO — the UK Parliament is majority *conservative*. Most of these MPs are, in theory, Murdoch’s ideological allies. And even *they* are giving him The Two.

    (Even though UK Conservatives(TM) are not as conservative as our conservatives, they are still more conservative than our Democrats. Mostly. Usually. On a good day.)

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      (Even though UK Conservatives(TM) are not as conservative as our conservatives, they are still more conservative than our Democrats. Mostly. Usually. On a good day.)

      David Cameron is leading the charge to legalize gay marriage. Of course, he’s at the extreme left of his own party.

    • Gunker says:

      That would be the Sun paper that extolled its readers to vote Labour ?

  13. Cowicide says:

    It’s time to put these evil, corrupt fuckers in prison.

  14. Hugh Johnson says:

    I agree that the man is not the most moral example out there.
    Is anyone truly fit to run an international corporation? And what is the bonafides of the person or people who decides?

  15. Maurice says:

    The thought of any MP commenting on anyone’s propriety is too ironic for words.

  16. pjcamp says:

    I think you could just put a period after “not a fit person.”

    There are people in Murdoch’s NY operation who won’t be able to travel to Britain for the foreseeable future.

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