Originally published: May 2, 2012
Last updated: May 2, 2012 - 2:43pm
[Commentary] One of the most interesting aspects of the British Parliament’s select committee’s report is how it finds Rupert Murdoch’s conduct to be, at best, “willful blindness”—a phrase that looks like a message to US prosecutors.
Willful blindness is a US legal term for what you might calls implausible deniability, like when a CEO or, say, a mafia boss has underlings do all the dirty work to keep his own hands clean. You can operate like that and still have plausible deniability, of course. It becomes implausible when it was clear long ago that there were serious problems that Murdoch, if he had wanted to, would have cleaned up. Instead, Murdoch cultivated a culture of obfuscation and coverup—one that hubristically, but not unrealistically, assumed that his power would be enough to ride out the turbulence. The scary thing is how close their bet on coverup came to winning. News Corp.’s extensive corruption of the British police system would have buried the scandal but for the heroic work of a small handful of folks like The Guardian’s Nick Davies, MP Tom Watson, and victims’ attorney Mark Lewis.
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