America Reacts To Rupert Murdoch Committee Hearings
The testimony of Rupert and James Murdoch before the House of Commons may have appealed to the US media and political elite, but for the general American public the hearings of the "British Spring" generally piqued little interest.
But that didn't stop American news sites from offering live blogging with a blow by blow account of Murdoch junior and senior's every move. From 07:00 Eastern Standard Time, the New York Times and the Washington Post were covering the dramatic arrivals to the final moments of Rebekah Brooks testimony. Meanwhile, every US major cable news outlet and national broadcaster, including Fox News to CNN and MSNBC, featured the live broadcast.
What finally caught the American public's attention was left to a protester named Jonnie Marbles who hit the embattled News Corp. CEO with a creamed pie with his wife diving in to protect him. References to "humble pie" trended on twitter throughout the day, followed by a further frame by frame dissection of Wendi Deng Murdoch's lunge, as reported by the New York Times.
The American liberal and conservative blogosphere was also reeling. Conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds, tried to link Murdoch's pie attack to a conspiracy by the parliament's security.
Meanwhile, at Think Progress, for instance, Joe Romm, a Fellow at American Progress and the editor of Climate Progress, suggested that an investigation should take place to find out whether News Corp officials are responsible for the 2009 hacking of climate scientists’ emails at the University of East Anglia.
Pies aside, American media analyst and author Ken Doctor characterised the day as "a masterclass in deniability". "For an American this [denial] takes us back to the days of Watergate." And like Richard Nixon, Doctor thinks a resignation could be on the cards for News Corp's CEO Rupert Murdoch.
As for how the actual hearings were perceived, it seems the questioning could have been more thorough, says Jeff Cohen, an American media critic, author and associate professor of Journalism at Ithaca College in New York. "They were generally as ineffective as US Senators here," he told the Huffington Post in a phone interview. "Murdoch with his memory and James with his stonewalling. He almost never gave a yes or no answer."
In the US, Murdoch's impact on US media has been powerful even on those non-Murdoch channels. "It’s been an international virus, he has exported Murdochian journalism," said Cohen. "What Murdoch was doing with The Sun-the mix of conservative and tabloid- is what he’s done with Fox News and what he’s done with the New York Post. I think people in America know that the huge influence that Murdoch has amassed and to a lesser extent the New York Post is a major player in New York politics."
But Mike Paul, a PR and crisis management expert believes the heavy US coverage the Murdoch story received isn't a coincidence. "This isn't just any news story. It's a competitive news story: Liberal media vs Conservative Media, Paul told the Huffington Post in a phone interview. "For years Murdoch's Fox News beat competitors in the ratings game - now there is an opportunity to get back at the king of media. They feel like Murdoch is the steak and they are ready to put him on the fire."