News Corp's top executives are beginning to feed on each other. James Murdoch is the latest to be caught red-handed with knowledge about the depth and breadth of the phone hacking at News of the World.
Whatever happens to News Corp. now, it will surely happen without James Murdoch. A single meeting the 38-year-old had in London one day in June 2008 now haunts him to the point where, having been the clever, dashing heir apparent to his buccaneer father, Rupert, he has become a liability with little hope of survival.
He is saying one thing—that in briefing him they gave an “incomplete picture”—and, remarkably, in a statement Thursday, they publicly denied that. It is a significant moment, because it is the first public breaking of ranks among Murdoch executives to have occurred in the five years this scandal has been running. From here, the whole edifice of James’ defense threatens to crumble away, and it could do so in days.
James is now in the front line of his own defense and, when he tries to blame any of these others they are likely to bite back, telling their own stories and defending their own interests. He attempted it, recklessly, with some of his company’s external lawyers, and they are now on his case. The same is happening with Crone and Myler.