News Corp. board on Murdoch’s ‘fitness’: We have ‘full confidence’ in CEO

Dylan Stableford
The Cutline

A day after the Parliament committee investigating phone-hacking declared Rupert Murdoch "not fit" to lead a major media company, News Corp.'s board of directors announced on Wednesday its full vote of "confidence" in their chairman and chief executive.

Here's News Corp.'s full statement:

The Board of Directors of News Corporation met today and announced its full confidence in Rupert Murdoch's fitness and support for his continuing to lead News Corporation into the future as its Chairman and CEO. The Board based its vote of confidence on Rupert Murdoch's vision and leadership in building News Corporation, his ongoing performance as Chairman and CEO, and his demonstrated resolve to address the mistakes of the Company identified in the Select Committee's report.

On Tuesday, the select committee released the 125-page report on phone hacking, concluding that Murdoch "turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications."

The committee said that James Murdoch, Rupert's son and former head of News Corp.'s British publishing unit, News International, showed a "willful ignorance" of the phone-hacking activity that occurred on his watch. They also charged that Les Hinton, former News International chairman, Colin Myler, ex-editor of News of the World, and former legal counsel Tom Crone were "complicit" in the phone-hacking cover-up. (According to the Guardian, all three may be called to apologize to Parliament, something that hasn't happened in 50 years.)

However, the select committee was divided on its Murdoch findings, with conservatives members wanting to soften the language about the family. They were outvoted.

On Tuesday, News Corp. released a statement in response to the findings:

Hard truths have emerged from the Select Committee Report: that there was serious wrongdoing at the News of the World; that our response to the wrongdoing was too slow and too defensive; and that some of our employees misled the Select Committee in 2009.

News Corporation regrets, however, that the Select Committee's analysis of the factual record was followed by some commentary that we, and indeed several members of the committee, consider unjustified and highly partisan. These remarks divided the members along party lines.

In a separate memo to News Corp. staffers, Murdoch admitted the report was "difficult to read" but vowed to prove that the company now adheres to "the highest ethical standards."

The 81-year-old Murdoch made no specific mention of his future, but hinted he would not be stepping down as chief executive anytime soon.

"The opportunity to emerge from this difficult period a stronger, better company has never been greater," he wrote, "and I will look to each of you to help me ensure that News Corporation's next 60 years are more vital and successful than ever."

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