Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is "not a fit person" to lead a major international company, a committee of U.K. parliament members concludes today in a scathing report about the News Corp. chief and the actions of his British tabloids, NPR's Philip Reeves tells our Newscast Desk.
The report also accuses Murdoch's companies of "misleading a parliamentary committee," Philip says, and exhibiting "willful blindness" regarding their illegal activities.
The Guardian calls it "a report highly critical of the mogul and his son James's role in the News of the World phone-hacking affair." And the Guardian adds that:
"The committee concluded that the culture of the company's newspapers 'permeated from the top' and 'speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International.' "
News Corp., as we've been reporting for nearly a year, has been engulfed in a scandal that began with word that one of the company's tabloids — News of the World — hacked into the cellphone of a missing teenaged girl (who later, it was revealed, had been murdered). Since then, evidence has emerged that the practice was far more common than realized. Now, investigators are focusing on signs that News Corp. engaged in some quid pro quo relations with British government officials.
Last week, Murdoch told an inquiry that "I failed" because some of his News Corp. tabloids in the U.K. were guilty of those hackings into the phones of murder victims, celebrities and politicians. But he also testified that lower-level executives were the ones behind a "cover-up" that kept him from knowing about what had happened.
Update at 8:10 a.m. ET. More:
On Morning Edition a short time ago, Philip told NPR's David Greene that because some Conservative members of the committee objected to the language labeling Murdoch as being unfit to lead a major company, that disagreement "may limit the impact that this report will ultimately make."
It's also not known yet what, if any, punishment Parliament might try to levy.