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The 'Hackgate' Chronicles; James Murdoch's Showdown #2

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JAMES MURDOCH
PA

And so, the "hackgate" scandal returns to the front pages. When James Murdoch walks into Portcullis House on Thursday morning, I presume he shall do so with a degree of timidity. He is meeting with the Culture, Media and Sport Committee to discuss phone hacking and further allegations of illegality at the News of the World. The hearing - his second in four months - will see him face some of his harshest critics, including Louise Mensch, Committee Chair John Whittingdale, and Tom Watson.

The past decade has seen Murdoch Junior climb up the executive ranks through News International, BSkyB and News Corporation. In 2010, he was placed at number eight in MediaGuardian's annual power and influence ranking. He was starting to win his ongoing battle against the BBC and it's presence in the UK media industry. He was seen as the outright contender to takeover his father's position in the future. In fact, before July of this year, James Murdoch's future could not have looked more bright.

However, July arrived. And it brought with it one of the biggest scandals Britain has seen in decades; about a publication that thrived from scandals. The fire started burning under the watch of James Murdoch in a corner of News Corporation under his control. When he decided to shut down the News of the World, he did so at a time when the affair was still shrouded in a great deal of mystery. In the heat of the moment, the public were handed the head of Rebekah Brooks, the Leveson Inquiry was established, and Rupert Murdoch was pied in the face. Surely that's enough vapour from the smoking gun? Well, only if it's out of ammunition, and it seemingly isn't.

The past few months have shown the media participate in a bizarre turn of events. The initial reaction of the press was to deprecate themselves. Yet, it was only a mere number of days before they were defending their methods of self-regulation. Since then, countless rumours have been flying about regarding illegalities taking place at publications outside of the News International portfolio. The broadcast media industry, together with The Guardian, seem to be the main outlets that are keeping the ball rolling. The BBC's Newsnight conveniently leaked a dossier of evidence just this week suggesting that News of the World journalists built up a huge network of covert surveillance on public figures.

For News Corporation, this is the story that simply won't go away. The likes of Kerry Katona, Max Mosley, and Hugh Grant were subjected to the persistent shame of scandals brought upon them by News of the World. The paper was closed for business before it met a similar fate. The Murdochs dreamt of that being the end. In reality, it wasn't even the beginning. All hostilities have since been directed towards the former publication's owner, News International, and its parent company, News Corporation. The discovery of corruption in a mere 1% of News Corporation has caused immense damage to the foundations of its entire empire. James Murdoch has been receiving a huge amount of blame for the extent of this harm.

Nevertheless, you didn't think various dressing-downs from his directors would stop his critics from continuing to speak out against him, did you? James Murdoch, once a man presumed by all to takeover one of the most powerful media empires on the planet, has been brought to the brink. At 11am on Thursday, he has a chance to turn his luck around. The odds in his favour may be tiny, but his potential gains are colossal.

www.callumjones.blog.com

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