They say a week is a long time in Politics, but for Murdoch this last week must have been the longest of his life.
Of course it is 20 years too late but, hey, better late than never.
There was a monumental error that Rupert Murdoch made over the past 40 years, is that if you play politics, you make LOTS of ENEMIES. Usually, within the Parliamentary structure this comes home to roost within 20 years or less, with Murdoch it has taken a little longer.
What has changed in the past few weeks is how the name Murdoch has actually itself become toxic and the contagion is still spreading. His flying into to town act earlier in the week to solve the problems of the company was a part of his biggest mistake. He looked like a smug, out of touch media baron, who was out of touch with the public, his readership and the politiciasn. As soon as he stated that his main priority was Rebecca Brooks his credibility melted away as everyone knew he had lost the plot. Forget the victims of the phone hacking, lets look after his own.
The sacrificial lamb, The News Of The World, was not enough to draw a line under the crisis, and even added to the belief that maybe he was not fit to run media organisations in this country.
Yet, to the end of this part of the crisis he was still able to exert his will on parliament by pulling the rug from under their feet. First by withdrawing his assurances over the take over BSkyB as Jeremy Hunt was on his way to parliament making him make policy on the hoof; and then yesterday withdrawing his bid BEFORE the united Parliamentary debate calling for him to withdraw his bid. Remarkable events but they could yet get more remarkable.
The rumours now are that he will sell all the newspapers in his stable in Britain and then re apply for the BSkyB takeover in 6-12 months time. This in part will be to teach people a lesson, as we could well lose the Times as a going concern.
His problems though are really only just beginning. The US are now calling for investigations into his company, which will at the very least cause him concern and bring him bad publicity. At worse this could be devastating if evidence of trying to or getting hold of 9/11 victims telephone numbers and messages is proved. That would be a line that no one would be able to cross in the US.
The contagion will not stop and the enquiries that are ongoing could have ramifications for another 2 years in the UK, and if the investigations take off in the US could hit profits hard.
It is estimated that this crisis so far has cost Murdoch £38 million.
What has now changed however, is the dynamics of Rupert Murdoch’s political influence in the UK. At last his cozey chats and insidious threats are at an end. His newspapers will have less power today than they ever have.
However, what it reveals, as with the expenses scandal, is just how our political elite are so spineless. It is obvious that anyone who owns a large percentage of media in a country will have too much influence. It is bad for competition, bad for plurality and bad for democracy. Yet every political party who got into power over the past 30 years was afraid to take it on.
Most countries would not let a foreign owner, own so much media, but this country seems to think it is perfectly fine. If we put a limit on the extent of ownership by any individual or company, then this would never have arisen.
Maybe now we will get a political elite that has more backbone in the future, however, I doubt it.