But Murdoch was sufficiently enigmatic to be impressive. Clearly an oldie, Murdoch nevertheless projected a style of gravity that allowed the public to think of him, if not at his best, then certainly not at his worst. Even when defiant, he wasn't obnoxious. His touches of self-pity, however, were tough to take.
Meanwhile, perceptions of incompetence have swirled around James since the scandal hit. He put them not to rest, but at least on hold.
Like his father, James wasn't going for a win in front of the inquiry. James was testifying in a way to make sure he did not lose any more ground. Not to lose was in itself a win. And he managed to kiss a few bums in the process.
But if the look on Deng's face was any indication, or my perception of her body language is correct, then, in step-mom's estimation, James is no Rupert.
The dynastic dynamic of this sprawling story is too oblique at the moment to plumb with any assurance, other than to suggest that it might be even more treacherous than the public battlefield.
This chapter of Murdoch's career invites historical analogy. Nixon humbler Carl Bernstein has dubbed it "Murdoch's Watergate."
To those with a paranoid frame of reference, the unexpected (and officially accidental) death of Sean Hoare, the whistleblower who gave Hackergate its legs in an interview with the New York Times, conjures memories of Whitewater. Remember Vince Foster, the Clinton-era White House lawyer who committed suicide, but is still believe by professional Clinton haters to have been murdered?
To me, this controversy recalls of the sex scandals that rocked the Vatican and periodically re-emerge in various forms to plague the Roman Catholic Church.
News Corp may be a publicly traded company, but its upper echelons are hermetically sealed to protect against false teaching. Apostates are not tolerated. In the United States, heretics are pilloried, and friends are beatified by Fox News and the New York Post. In the United Kingdom the Sun and the defunct NoW were the designated inquisitors.
The suspicion of darkness in England and in the United States was long an open secret among the critics of Murdoch's peculiar brand of journalism. In one form or another, Parliament has been investigating allegations of widespread tabloid corruption since 2003. And for the last four years, the Guardian, and to a lesser extent the Telegraph, both broadsheets, have waged a lonely campaign against the corrosive influence the tabloids — not just those owned by Murdoch — exercise on British public life.
It was, quite justly, the Guardian that drove the finishing nail into years of work. Once confirmation of the darkest suspicions was achieved, "justice," to paraphrase Isaiah, "poured down like a mountain stream."