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QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

The Murdochs and Rebekah Brooks Answer Questions in Parliament

Aired July 19, 2011 - 14:20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: She may -- she may have been arrested, she may be on bail, but it's still just over two hours of answering questions for Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International. And forthright answers we will discuss with our panel, Geoffrey Robertson, the leading human rights attorney.

Now Miss. Brooks -- Mrs. Brooks was in a bit of a difficult position because she does actually have to be aware that she is arrested and, of course, has to be careful what she says.

Did she -- did she do the trick for you?

GEOFFREY ROBERTSON, HUMAN RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, she came with her lawyer and she made the point that she is under arrest. But, again, she repeated the mantra that we heard from the Rup -- from Rupert and James Murdoch, I guess with Rebekah Brooks, there, we might call them the whopping three, that they heard no evil, saw no evil. And this is, quite frankly, difficult to believe, because she was in the hot seat. She was running the "News of the World" at the time.

And she no doubt --

QUEST: Right, sir --

ROBERTSON: -- and, again, the -- the ball was rather dropped, because the sensation that's come out of today is the fact that Glen Mulcaire, the guy who -- the man who did all the -- the hacking, the demon hacker, is still being paid or his legal expenses have been paid by News Limited. And he may still be paid -- and no one has actually seemed to have looked at his contract recently. This is the man for whose work Rupert and James Murdoch --

QUEST: All right (INAUDIBLE) --

ROBERTSON: -- and Rebekah Brooks have grovelingly apologized. And yet they may still be paying him.

So how can their apologies be sincere?

Mulcaire knows where all the bodies are buried. He knows to whom he reported and who he says put pressure on him. So let's, for heaven's sake, have the FBI or some competent police force, because our own police force can't even keep shaving --

QUEST: All right, Geoffrey --

ROBERTSON: -- shaving cream out of Parliamentary committees, to interview him about who, in fact, did commission and cover-up his work.

QUEST: All right, Geoffrey.

Well, that's a fair point.

Michael Cockerell, it is -- is this investigation -- was today, by the Select Committee -- I suppose the answer is who came off best, the Murdochs and Brooks or the Select Committee?

MICHAEL COCKERELL, POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY MAKER: I think it was a no score draw, in a way. Unfortunately, because of the constraints, I think Rebekah Brooks, you could see how she had risen from -- from the typing pool to become chief executive in terms of her smoothness of manner and her ability to deflect questions.

I think the -- the committees all tried hard, but it -- committees -- select committees are very difficult because you can't continue the line of questioning, because each of the MPs goes off on a different line. And they were quite good at either deflecting the question or saying they didn't know at the time.

It seemed to me that there was this huge disconnect between what a newsroom is like, especially a newsroom of a tabloid newspaper and the methods they use compared to -- to this, you know, until the shaving cream --

QUEST: All right --

COCKERELL: -- shaving cream in the face. There -- the -- this august select committee.

QUEST: Allyson Stewart-Allen, the marketing and corporate diplomacy expert.

Allyson, if you had to weigh off, on one hand, and on the other, perhaps what Rebekah Brooks said at the end in relation to one committee member, that the public would be shaking their head after they'd heard a lot of what was said.

ALLYSON STEWART-ALLEN, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL MARKETING PARTNERS: Oh, absolutely. I think one of the things that's clear about what we've heard from all three people today in these hearings is it sounds like you have executives running a large global corporation that aren't on top of the facts. They're not on top of the culture. They're not on top of their brief. And when you have people allowed or rampant phone hacking and police -- alleged police bribery that's been allowed to persist over a number of years, you have something wrong.

And, clearly, admitting that, detailing what you're going to do to do a root and branch review of practices, putting processes and structures in place so it can't happen again, that's the reassurance that viewers of CNN and readers of all these newspapers want to know.

ROBERTSON: And Richard, we --

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTSON: -- we heard a great deal --

(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTSON: -- about press freedom. I mean Rebekah Brooks and Rupert Murdoch kept saying what a wonderfully diverse press we've got, that we've got to keep press freedom.

What has press freedom to do with breaking the law?

What has press freedom to do with bribing policemen for information and with hacking phones illegally?

The point is, and the Select Committee, who were very bad at cross- examination and -- and very boring at many times, they never got to the point of saying, what story, what great public interest story did you ever get --

QUEST: All right --

ROBERTSON: -- from invading privacy?

This is the $64 question that I'm afraid the -- the Murdochs and Miss. Brooks never suggested an answer to.

So press freedom is a great slogan --

QUEST: Geoffrey, we will have --

(CROSSTALK)

QUEST: Geoffrey, I'm going to -- I'm going to have to interrupt you. Forgive me, Geoffrey. I am going to have to interrupt you. Select Committee or otherwise, I know you'll forgive me.

We do need to take a momentary break.

Geoffrey, Allyson and Michael will be with us after the break.

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS will be on the other side of this short intermission.

CNN's coverage of the evidence before the Commons Select Committee.

If you're watching, we thank you for your company.

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS is next.

It's just about half past 7:00.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Good evening tonight, live from outside the houses of Parliament in Central London.

I'm Richard Quest and I mean business, as tonight, Rupert Murdoch says he will remain at the helm of News Corp because he believes he's the best person, in his words, to clean up the phone hacking scandal from.

On what he called the most humble day of his life, Mr. Murdoch faced a barrage of questions over two-and-a-half hours and became the victim of an embarrassing prank.

In the hearing, he told the U.K. lawmakers he wasn't responsible for phone hacking at his company, he only found out about the scandal two weeks ago.

The proceedings were interrupted when a member of the public flung a foam-covered plate at Mr. Murdoch's face. His son, James, rushed to the defense. Rupert's wife, Wendi, took a swing at the assailant. Mr. Murdoch, who is 80, was unhurt. It was a short break and he continued minus his jacket.

Now, in the past hour, we've been hearing from Rebekah Brooks. She was the chief executive of News International. She was the editor of the "News of the World." And now she's out of a job.

Shares in News Corp are gaining tonight. We will be in New York over the next hour. And shares are up more than 5 percent. let me update you and begin with a reminder of who held the power on this extraordinary day in the British Parliament.

The Murdochs had each prepared an opening statement, which they were refused to be allowed to read.

So the first words we heard from James Murdoch was an apology. WOMAN:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MURDOCH, DEPUTY COO AND CEO, NEWS CORPORATION: First of all, I would like to say, as well, just how sorry I am and how sorry we are to particularly the victims of illegal voice-mail interceptions and to their families. It's a matter of great regret for mine, my father's and everyone at News Corporation. And these are standards, these -- these actions do not live up to the standards that our company aspires to everywhere around the world. And it is our determination to both put things right, make sure these things don't happen again and to be the company that I know with have always aspired to be.

RUPERT MURDOCH: I would just like to say one sentence.

(CROSSTALK)

RUPERT MURDOCH: This is the most humble day of my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: The most humble day of my life. It was a long inquisition, sometimes heated, sometimes more measured, at times, even sedate. Every word that was spoken shed light on this crisis, including News Corp's decision to withdraw its multi-billion dollar bid for BSkyB.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUPERT MURDOCH, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, NEWS CORPORATION: A lot of people had different agendas, I think, in trying to build this hysteria. All our competitors in this country formally announced a consortium to try and stop us. And they called us the dirty hands and they (INAUDIBLE) their way around.

JAMES MURDOCH: But I think it shows clearly there was a competitor (INAUDIBLE) that stopped (INAUDIBLE) --

RUPERT MURDOCH: No, I think that -- that a mood developed which made it really impractical to go ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Now very rarely do we see Rupert Murdoch so vulnerable. The founder of News Corporation insisted he would not stand down. He was questioned by the Conservative Parliament member, Louise Mensch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LOUISE MENSCH, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Did you not regard yourself as the hands-off chief executive?

You work 10 to 12 hours a day. This terrible thing happened on your watch.

Mr. Murdoch, have you been (INAUDIBLE)?

RUPERT MURDOCH: No.

MENSCH: Why hot?

RUPERT MURDOCH: Because I feel that people I trusted -- I'm not saying who. I don't know at what level. They let me down. And I think they behaved disgracefully and betrayed the company and me. And it's for them to pay.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Let's talk about the protests that took place today.

CNN's producer, Jonathan Wald, who was sitting just behind Rupert Murdoch when it happened.

And Jonathan joins me now -- Jon, where were you and how far away would you say you were?

JONATHAN WALD, CNN PRODUCER: I was immediately be --

(COUGHS)

WALD: Excuse me. I was immediately behind Rupert Murdoch.

QUEST: Right.

WALD: A couple of seats to the left. So about two to the left of his wife, Wendi, when it happened.

QUEST: OK.

What happened?

Talk us through the pictures.

WALD: Louise Mensch was the -- the last of the Select Committee to ask questions. It had been a very, very long hearing. Right now then all of a sudden, somebody from the back of the room came to the front. At first off, I thought he we was -- he was trying to leave the room. He had a plastic bag. And he pulled out of the bag a Paula Steinman (ph) plate filled with, well, what I later found out, because enough of it fell on me, surveillance perfume. And he just plunged it into the face of Rupert Murdoch.

QUEST: So that -- that's fairly nasty. And there -- it is said that it could have been a very nasty moment.

WALD: It -- it could have been. I say could have --

QUEST: It wasn't shave -- I mean shaving foam is shaving foam, but it could have been something else.

WALD: Absolutely. I think, ultimately, he wasn't hurt. He was -- he was more shocked, I think , as every was. But no one was seriously hurt.

QUEST: Tell me about what Wendi Murdoch did, because she -- because we could see there. She's wearing the purple. And she almost, I mean, she launches herself herself and -- and goes to give him a clout.

WALD: Oh, yes. I mean her defense mechanisms, I think, were -- were better than anyone else in the room, including the police officers. She jumped at the person that attacked -- I think even took a swing and using the plate that he -- that the attacker had used to strike Murdoch.

QUEST: OK, let's just talk finally about -- because are really up close and personal, if you like, to the Murdochs. The body language and chemistry that -- that there was between the two men.

WALD: James Murdoch seemed very nerves. Both of them had two liter bottles of water. James Murdoch was drinking at quite a pace. He finished his bottle by the end of session. Rupert Murdoch hadn't even touched his.

James Murdoch also seemed to be very, very nervous when his father spoke, he always looked at him. He was gulping. Occasionally, he had a -- put a comforting, reassuring arm on his father.

QUEST: Did Rupert seem to be in control or out of the touch?

WALD: There were very long, heavy pauses before many of his answers. And perhaps he was -- he was showing his age. But he showed more more relaxed than his son.

QUEST: You don't get to be Rupert Murdoch without being that.

Many thanks, indeed, Jonathan Wald, who was in the room.

Now, after three hours of questions for the Murdochs, the committee waited just a few moments before they began questioning Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News International. She was the editor of the "News of the World." And despite the fact that she refused or wasn't allowed to resign initially, well, she lost her job.

The panel asked her if she had any regrets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REBEKAH BROOKS, FORMER CEO, NEWS INTERNATIONAL: Of course I -- I have regrets. I mean the idea that many (INAUDIBLE) with access by someone being paid by the "News of the World" or even were authorized by someone at the "News of the World" is as horrid -- abhorrent to me as it is to everyone in this room.

And it is -- I ultimately regret that -- at the speed in which we have -- we had found out and tried to find out the bottom of this investigation has been too slow. I think James and Rupert both accepted that earlier. And we are endeavoring and -- or they are endeavoring -- now I've left the company -- to -- to continue to investigate.

But of course there are regrets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUEST: Now, lawmakers asked the Murdochs if they were -- had been coached for their hearings. Certainly it is known that they had received or employed P.R. advisers.

James Murdoch said the only advise that had been received was to tell the truth.

Now, our panel will give us the view on whether they saw any coaching.

Allyson is with us, Allyson Stewart-Allen, marketing and corporate diplomacy expert, Allyson.

What did you think?

Did they seem coached?

ALLYSON STEWART-ALLEN, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL MARKETING PARTNERS: It's hard to tell. There's -- I'm -- I'm in two minds about, certainly, Rupert Murdoch's performance today, if we look at it as a performance. The fact that he took a long time to answer, that he had short, one or two word answers a lot of the time, the fact that he seemed to not be about to remember quite a lot, gave the impression of an older gentleman, in his 80s, who's on the other side of his successful career --

QUEST: Ooh.

STEWART-ALLEN: -- and --

QUEST: (INAUDIBLE).

STEWART-ALLEN: -- it did appear that he was looking a bit vulnerable. So I do actually think that, based on what I saw today, they had certainly been coached. And it appeared to me that he was sticking to what he'd been taught, which is don't give a lot of answers and don't be too forthcoming and maybe look a little bit vulnerable, as well.

QUEST: All right. Geoffrey, briefly, did you feel, by the end of the day, that you were in a better position of knowing the -- the geography and the geometry of this scandal than we were before?

ROBERTSON: Well, I -- was he coached?

Come on, I saw the coach. He was sitting right behind James. It was Tony Grabino (ph) of Labour (INAUDIBLE), who has been retained by "News of the World" and undoubtedly gave them that very wise advice, to tell the truth.

Unfortunately, the Select Committee was not selected by reference to any ability to cross-examine and, to a large extent, I don't think we got very far into the details. And there was a nice line that they all had, which was we can't -- people are under arrest, it didn't have anything to do with us, we know nothing, we were betrayed, said Rupert Murdoch --

QUEST: All right -- ROBERTSON: -- betrayed by others we can't name, because they're under investigation.

So with that kind of shield, no doubt advised by their lawyers, that was the impenetrable -- that was the barrier to getting at the truth today.

QUEST: All right.

Michael Cockerell, did you feel, as you watched the proceedings, that that relationship between politician and -- and the media and the press, politician and press, we were watching the death knell of it today?

COCKERELL: The death knell, it is far too early to -- to say that. Politicians and the media need each other. They're locked together in a deadly embrace.

But what I did feel was that the power of Rupert Murdoch himself, we saw -- we saw it, you know, like -- like Charcescu on the balcony. We -- he did -- diminished before our eyes, because in the old days, Rupert Murdoch didn't give interviews. He certainly didn't talk to select committees or anything like that. He gave an audience. And normally having the audience kneeling at his feet were successive British prime ministers. We heard from -- we heard from Rebekah Brooks --

QUEST: All right --

COCKERELL: -- how close she was to a number of British prime ministers. And that was the relationship. And I think that relationship has changed as a result of what we saw today.

QUEST: Michael, Allyson and Geoffrey, we thank you for your time, and, of course, for being with us today.

When we come back in just a moment after this short break, one of the committee members joins me to tell me what it was actually like questioning the Murdochs and whether she felt they made much progress.

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

We're live in London after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Seventeen to the hour. We know that, of course. Big Ben tells us that.

The MP, Louise Mensch, was on the -- is on the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee. And we've seen much of her today during the questioning.

And she joins us now.

Ms. Mensch, when, first of all, was it at all intimidating questioning Rupert and James Murdoch?

And that's not a loaded question.

LOUISE MENSCH, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Not at all.

QUEST: You know, it is the most powerful bu -- media man in the world.

MENSCH: Yes. It was absolutely terrifying. It was absolutely terrifying because I think I went last. And, as you saw, there was a major interruption before I asked my questions. So whatever we were then expecting, that was a reset. And I think as the -- we were all probably -- I can only speak for myself. I was extremely nervous before the questioning started. But then as the testimony progressed, we were just listening to the answers and trying to get to the truth. And that's what we were concentrating on.

QUEST: What did we get from today from the Murdochs and Brooks?

MENSCH: I think we got their version of events. And I think we want to go back and analyze it very carefully. I was very surprised, I suppose, to hear that there had been failures of corporate governance at News Corp such that -- that most sectors of the company weren't told about this ongoing wrongdoing. And I think perhaps that was the thing that most surprised me. And the tendency of my questions to Mr. Murdoch is he would now undertake a complete review of practices in his (INAUDIBLE).

QUEST: Which, of course, he said he hadn't done so, but he promised that he would.

And didn't you ever just want to throw your hands up to Miss. Brooks and say you must have known. And if you didn't know, you're incompetent for not knowing?

MENSCH: Well, I think the thrust of the questions was that they probably ought to have known --

QUEST: Well --

MENSCH: -- and I'm not sure if relying on other people -- ought not to have relied on other people. And that's, indeed, why I said to Mr. James Murdoch, that if I were him, I would go back and read the entire file myself, under the circumstances. I'd take a few days to do it.

But I have to say, I cannot fault either the Murdochs or Mrs. Brooks' extensive answers to the committee today. They didn't hide behind legal prevailing at any point and they did give us very full and frank answers, though questions remain, but they nevertheless answered the questions.

QUEST: Well, you see, that's the point.

Do you think the committee did its work well today?

MENSCH: I believe so, because I think we asked very searching questions in exhaustive detail about the nature of the payments, about the differences between them. And we received the answers, which I think do leave the questions hanging out there --

QUEST: All right. Right. The questions are hanging out there.

Is there -- which question, for you, is still unknown as a result of what took place today?

MENSCH: The question for me that's still unknown is why -- why were the serious wrongdoing at the "News of the World" not parsed up the chain of command to James and Rupert Murdoch?

Because if I were in their position, knowing the reputation of my company, if we do want those answers right now. And I would be incredibly distressed to learn that I hadn't got them.

That is the question that I have.

QUEST: And what about the question of the body language between the two men. I mean you're -- you saw them again close up and personal. And it seems that Mr. Murdoch's long pauses, very firm answers when they came, yes, no, I didn't do it, I didn't know about it.

James Murdoch sounding sometimes like a management textbook.

MENSCH: James Murdoch was well versed and was close to the action. Mr. Rupert Murdoch is -- he's 80 years old, I think, is one of the first things to say. And he wanted to consider his answers. As a matter of I thought the body language between the two men was quite tender. I noticed James Murdoch putting his hand on his -- his father's at one point and Mr. Murdoch said, "He's telling me not to just speculate."

But it looked to me like a gesture of comfort.

QUEST: Right.

MENSCH: And you could see that family relationship.

QUEST: You've been an MP for how long?

MENSCH: I was elected last year.

QUEST: Exactly. So new to the game in the sense -- to the game in the sense of the political beast of the Murdochs and the relationships between press and -- and politics.

Has anything changed?

MENSCH: Well, a week is a long time in politics. And if that old store was ever pulled through, it's been over the last couple of weeks. I think we've seen a cataclysmic change --

QUEST: So you wouldn't go to -- you wouldn't go to lunch with Mr. Murdoch (INAUDIBLE) --

MENSCH: I would be very --

QUEST: (INAUDIBLE) --

MENSCH: I would be very happy to go to lunch with Mr. Murdoch, Mr. Datcher (ph), with the editor of any national newspaper. But the difference between now and this time three months ago is that if I had and took such a meeting, I would declare it.

QUEST: And what -- give a grade today for what the -- the scandal overall -- A, B, C or D in terms of what we learned.

MENSCH: Oh, my goodness. (INAUDIBLE). It -- it is -- it is a Grade A scandal. But I think that what we have seen today is the beginnings of fixing of the problem, letting some sunshine in on the corporate culture --

QUEST: Right.

MENSCH: -- hopefully not just at News International, but across the tabloid press in this country.

QUEST: So you're -- many thanks, indeed.

Now, when we come back in just a moment, why did News Corp's stock rise 5 percent in New York?

And the rumors of change -- Mr. Murdoch is 80.

Who comes after, in a moment.

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: No boardroom coup underway at News Corp, according to one of its senior officials. The directors are, in their words, regularly reevaluating their plans.

Now a credit rating warning from S&P has given them food for thought.

CNN's Felicia Taylor is in New York, outside News Corp headquarters.

We saw a 5 percent or so rise in the share price.

Does that suggest Murdoch out or a confidence vote in the way they're leading the company?

FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually, Richard, I think it's very much a confidence vote in the way that they're leading the company. There's been no official word as to whether the succession plan would actually change at this point.

As far as investors are concerned on Wall Street, they like very much what they heard in those hearings. I know your guest said that this was a Grade A scandal, but as far as the stock is concerned, as far as the company is concerned, nothing has really been hurt by it.

You have to remember that the newspaper division represents a very small portion of revenues for the company.

What's really important to it is its cable division. And that's also the home of Fox News, which is where I'm standing right now. And that's one of the main jewels in the crown.

We don't know if Murdoch is going to step down. He is 80 years old. But then again, his mother is 102. His language is pretty strong. We -- we have no idea how long he's going to last at the helm. People like to see the fact that he's still maintaining control.

If there was a change in succession plan, then the names being bandied about are Chase Carey and Joel Klein. You saw Joel Klein sitting right behind him. He was the former superintendent of schools here in New York City. And now, as some people have said, that's the person that Murdoch has a crush on right now.

But Chase Carey has been in his stables for a very long time. He is the current coo, so the number two man at the helm of News Corp.

And he has a great reputation. Investors like him. Shareholders would definitely give a thumbs up if there was to be any kind of a change like that.

But right now, what they're concentrating on is the fact that the company is still very strong. Like I mentioned, the cable division is where it earns most of its money. And that's still very much intact. People aren't going to stop watching Fox News or Fox Sports simply because there is this scandal in the newspaper division -- Richard.

QUEST: Felicia Taylor, stay with us, please, Felicia, for just a moment.

Jim Boulden is at CNN London, which we were hoping to talk to him.

When we come back to Jim in just a second -- Felicia, while we have you here, let us just consider for one second this -- this revenue split. BSkyB was part of increasing the benefits from television.

Now, we know that most of the money comes from cable programming, filmed movies and television programming.

Is there a feeling that this scandal is moving into the United States yet?

TAYLOR: Not really. It doesn't feel like there is any kind of bleeding into the other entities that exist here. And, again, that would be Fox News and its cable divisions, or "The New York Post" or "The Wall Street Journal." Those are also entities that -- that Murdoch holds in his empire.

So there isn't a sense yet that the journalists in -- on this side of the Atlantic have taken part in any of this phone hacking.

But what we don't know yet is whether or not that was something that happened to 9/11 victims. If that becomes a story, that is the true story about this, then there will be some very serious concerns on the part of regulators -- excuse me, not regulators, but lawmakers in this country, as to whether or not any kind of journalists on this side of the Atlantic are doing that, as well.

So far, though, we have -- we don't have that sense at all.

QUEST: All right, Felicia Taylor joining us there from New York.

Now, Chris Bryant is the member of Parliament who originally called for the Parliamentary debate on phone hacking.

He is also suing News International, claiming he himself was a victim.

Chris Bryant joined me earlier and we needed to talk about this relationship, this perhaps cancerous relationship which has existed between politicians and the press in the UK. He said the scandal is far from over.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS BRYANT, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: I think we're only halfway into the scandal at the moment. You know, several people have been arrested. We are learning more stuff day by day. I never thought that we'd find out that police officers have been trying to secure jobs for the children of journalists at the "News of the World" in the Metropolitan Police. I never thought that we'd find out that they -- the chief -- the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police would have to resign because he felt that he had appointed somebody who'd worked for News International because the prime minister had appointed somebody and said that was fine.

QUEST: Does -- did the police commissioner, in your view, have to go?

BRYANT: Yes, of course he did, because he -- he had hidden from the committee, to whom he gave evidence last week, the fact that he had appointed Neil Wallis, who was the deputy editor of the "News of the World," to work at the -- at the Metropolitan Police.

And you had this kind of revolving door where people went out of the Met into the News International and back again. And but -- but what's naughty is he's not really falling on his own sword, he's falling on the prime minister's sword.

And bear in mind that the prime minister's two closest media allies have been arrested literally by the police, not for one hour, but for 12 hours apiece.

QUEST: Yes. Can you accept, then -- and we're going to go on the political route -- that the previous government, the Labour government, did a pretty shoddy --

BRYANT: Yes.

QUEST: -- shoddy --

BRYANT: Yes.

QUEST: -- job?

BRYANT: Yes.

QUEST: -- of -- they did --

BRYANT: Yes.

QUEST: There's enough blame to go around?

BRYANT: Yes. I -- look, I mean, and -- and, indeed, I asked the question back in 2003, have you ever paid a police officer for information?

Rebekah Brooks said yes. Andy Coulson said yes. And then the prime minister appointed him to work at Downing Street.

But, of course, I didn't pursue that aggressively enough between 2003 and 2009. I think, in the last couple of years, some of us have been pushing very hard at this. Some politicians have been trying to put the lid on it.

But, yes, we didn't cover ourselves with glory.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: Chris Bryant, the MP.

He referred there to the revolving door of politicians and the press, certainly at News International. Well, the politicians took Rupert Murdoch to task on that. His role as the political king maker. You've heard the politicians' points of view. But Murdoch admitted that on occasions, he'd literally been ushered in through the back door at Number Ten Downing Street, recalling one meeting with David Cameron that could have been an embarrassment to both.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUPERT MURDOCH: I was asked would I please come in through the back door.

JAMES MURDOCH: I don't think my father would have any direct knowledge of the arrangements that were being made for his entry or exit from a particular building, Mr. Sheridan, respectfully.

SHERIDAN: OK. Again, Mr. Murdoch, have you ever imposed any preconditions --

RUPERT MURDOCH: Which visit to Downing Street are you suggesting -- are you talking about?

SHERIDAN: It was just following the last general election.

RUPERT MURDOCH: I was invited within days to have a cup of tea, to be thanked for the support, by Mr. Cameron. No other conversation took place.

SHERIDAN: And that's the --

RUPERT MURDOCH: It lasted minutes.

SHERIDAN: And that's the one where you went in through the back door?

RUPERT MURDOCH: Yes. I had been asked, also, by Mr. Brown many times.

SHERIDAN: Through the back door?

RUPERT MURDOCH: Yes.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

QUEST: Rupert Murdoch admitting political access through the back door.

So what do we make of what took place today?

After the break, a Profitable Moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Tonight's "Profitable Moment."

One way or another, I've been involved in journalism for the better part of a quarter of a century plus. When it started, Rupert Murdoch was a powerful man. I interviewed him as a trainee during a major strike in the U.K. at his newspapers.

Well, Murdoch is even more powerful today. But never in the years, perhaps all of his years, have we seen such testimony. The untouchable monolith of the world's media at the mercy of the people's representatives.

For Rupert, it was a time to face his public.

There is no question the Murdochs divide opinion. There were protests before the hearing and an altercation during it. And, indeed, in the houses of Parliament, the mother of Parliament, what we saw today showed the same resilience, the same analysis that's kept him at the top for so long.

It was interesting, when the Murdochs started giving their evidence, to the second, what had been a clear, sunny day suddenly turned very gray and the rain poured down.

Symbolic?

Who's to say?

For a start, Mr. Murdoch said he was sorry. We'd heard the apologies. Today, we saw them and they appeared to be genuine. There's a long way to go in this scandal. What we saw

Today was the latest toilless peak (ph) in the range of mountains.

Rupert Murdoch is determined to regain control.

But how long must be questionable.

And that is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight.

I'm Richard Quest at the houses of Parliament.

Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable.

"WORLD REPORT" with Hala Gorani is next.

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