With Scandal Expanding, Murdoch Takes Charge
Six days after the arrests of five senior journalists at Rupert Murdoch's largest newspaper, the London Sun , on charges that they bribed police and other public officials for information, Murdoch today (Friday), flew into London and made a series of startling announcements. "We are doing everything we can to assist those who were arrested," he said. "All suspensions [of the arrested journalists] are hereby lifted. ... News Corporation will cover their legal expenses. Everyone is innocent unless proven otherwise." Far from shutting down The Sun , as he had agreed to do in the case of his other scandal-plagued tabloid, The News of the World , Murdoch said that he "will build on The Sun 's proud heritage by launching The Sun on Sunday very soon." Such an announcement had been expected (with many observers suggesting that the new tabloid would be a morphed NoW ) but it was not expected to be made while The Sun was under siege. Murdoch also defended the panel he had set up to investigate possible illegal activities on the part of his newspapers' staffs, saying that he had made a commitment to make News Corp an example of ethical journalism. "We will continue to ensure that all appropriate steps are taken to protect legitimate journalistic privilege and sources ... but we cannot protect people who have paid public officials." Finally, he assured his staff that he will remain in London "for the next several weeks to give you my unwavering support." Conspicuously absent from the staff memo was any mention of Murdoch's son James, who heads News International, the News Corp unit that oversees The Sun and its other London newspapers, the Times and the Sunday Times . Dan Sabbagh, who covers media and technology for the Guardian , tweeted, "Did James Murdoch just get written out?" Andrew Neil, former editor of the Sunday Times tweeted a few minutes later that James had indeed "been written out of script." Rupert, he wrote "loves his tabloids and his son doesn't."