Rupert Murdoch has given his first significant public comments since the scandal engulfing News Corporation broke. Speaking to his own newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, he vigorously defended the company’s actions and hit back at accusations against him.
He said that News Corp had handled the crisis “extremely well in every way possible,” making just “minor mistakes.” This is despite claims by the Metropolitan Police that News International hindered its investigation.
Murdoch also addressed his appearance in front of a Commons select committee next Tuesday. He agreed to attend yesterday after initially declining. He said he wanted to:
[Address] some of the things that have been said in parliament, some of which are total lies. We think it’s important to absolutely establish our integrity in the eyes of the public……I felt that it’s best just to be as transparent as possible.
He singled out former prime minister Gordon Brown, who has accused reporters at News International of accessing his son’s medical records and gave a rabble-rousing speech attacking Murdoch and News International in the Commons on Wednesday, saying: “He got it entirely wrong”.
Murdoch added that “the Browns were always friends of ours” until the Sun withdrew its support for Labour before the last election. His biographer, Michael Wolff, tweeted that in the interview “Murdoch seemed genuinely distressed about Brown not liking him anymore”.
In the last few days, speculation has been rife that Murdoch might sell off his British newspaper titles to prevent contagion in his empire. Murdoch, who is famously committed to the newspaper business, responded to these rumous:
Pure rubbish. Pure and total rubbish….give it the strongest possible denial you can give.
He also said he was confident that the damage to News Corp was “nothing that will not be recovered”. Unsurprisingly, the Sun King is fighting back.