In two hours of intense questioning broken only by a bizarre incident in which Mr. Murdoch was accosted with what appeared to be a foil pie plate filled with shaving cream, both he and his son James declared repeatedly that they had been shocked to discover something that has become increasingly apparent: that phone hacking and other illegal behavior were endemic at their News of the World tabloid, which is now defunct.
He did not know, for example, that his company had paid confidential out-of-court settlements of £600,000 and £1 million to two victims of phone hacking. Nor, he said, did he know that the company was paying the legal fees of Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator under contract to The News of the World who was convicted in 2007 of hacking into the phones of staff members of the royal family.
James Murdoch said he had not known about paying Mr. Mulcaire’s legal fees either, and was “as surprised as you are that some of these arrangements had been made.”
Corporations are people (as decided by SCOTUS in the Citizens United case). If the hand of a person commits a crime, no jury in the country would buy the defense that the brain didn’t know what the hand was doing and therefore the person is not guilty. Murdoch is the brain of this giant media conglomerate and if he indeed didn’t know about the phone hacking and payoffs, he should be able to find out who was responsible pretty quickly by making a few phone calls.
The buck never stops at those who are in charge when it comes to right-wing operations. We’ve seen that with the Bush administration’s Abu Ghraib scandal, banking scandal, and many more, as well as Reagan’s Arms for Hostages scandal.