It was girls on top (yet again) at the Parliamentary quizzing of Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks today over the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
James did OK under some tough questioning from Labour MP Tom Watson, but did demonstrate the inexperienced executive’s characteristic fault of filling a gap in the conversation by saying a bit more (you don’t, especially under these circumstances).
Rupert didn’t say that much apart from saying this was the most ‘humbling’ day of his life, but he hasn’t had very many. He showed contrition of course (and also no desire to step down from running News Corporation) but he did appear, well, past it.
Rebekah Brooks, on the other hand, who had no need to appear before the committee having being charged over the affair, played a blinder.
She was courteous, charming (although she looked a bit rough), well-briefed and apparently sincere. This from a woman whose husband Charlie Brooks had spent the morning trying to retrieve a bin bag containing a computer and a phone from an underground car park in Chelsea.
Maybe the MPs were tired after grilling the Murdoch boys but Brooks, to me anyway, sailed through it all.
Of the MPs Labour’s Tom Watson, who’s been on the case for years, was good and new Tory MP Louise Mensch, nee Bagshawe, the ‘chick lit’ writer routinely reviled by the Daily Mail, was brilliant.
She toasted both Murdochs and only came unstuck when she tried to broaden it out to the rest of Fleet Street, which the News Corp crew quite properly declined to respond to, much as they would have liked to.
But she did put Paul Dacre’s Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday in the frame (which will infuriate and, possibly, alarm Fleet Street’s most successful editor).
She also claimed, from a reading of Piers Morgan’s published diaries and some comments he is supposed to have made elsewhere, that the current CNN talk show host ‘routinely’ oversaw phone hacking when he was editing the Daily Mirror.
We drew the world’s attention to this months ago but, without the protection of Parliamentary privilege, were unable to go as far.
Where will this go? Anywhere or nowhere. PM David Cameron has a tricky statement to make in Parliament tomorrow but his friend Rebekah Brooks made it quite a lot easier for him today.
In the meantime we wait for the summer holidays. And more revelations, no doubt.