Reaction to News of the World Testimony

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," July 19, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


RUPERT MURDOCH, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, NEWS CORP: I would just like to say one sentence. This is the most humble day of my life.

LOUISE MENSCH, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: This terrible thing happened on your watch. Mr. Murdoch, have you considered resigning?


MENSCH: Why not?

MURDOCH: Because I feel that people I trusted, I'm not saying who, I don't know what level, but let me down, and I think they behaved disgracefully and betrayed the company and me. And it's for them to pay. I think that frankly I'm the best person to clean this up.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer of News Corp., the parent of this station, and his son fellow News Corp. executive James Murdoch testified before Parliament today. One interesting incident happened during about two-and-a-half hours into the testimony. A man, a protester came up, hurled a plate apparently of shaving cream at Rupert Murdoch. His wife Wendi jumps up, and punches the guy, apparently saving the day. You can kind of see as it -- in slow-mo here, Wendi's reaction. And Parliament members at the committee apologized to the Murdochs.

But what about this, the day's testimony and where we are in this scandal? We're back with the panel. Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I'd like to think that if I were in that position, my wife, too, would come leaping to my defense so eagerly.

Look, I think it was an interesting day. I don't think that there was anything that we learned that was devastating to the Murdochs; that was devastating to News Corp. I think it moved the process along in sort of a gradual way, what we have seen over the past several weeks.

The charges are quite serious. I mean, I think it is sort of the ultimate in a breach of journalistic ethics to imagine hacking into someone's voice mail or tapping in, in any way to those kind of sensitive conversations.

That said, I have to say that one of the things that struck me over the past several days and today in particular, is the overwhelming American media coverage of this scandal. It has gotten to the point where it is absurd. The New York Times today had by my eye roughly double the coverage of the Murdoch News of the World scandal than of they had of the potential U.S. debt crisis. And that's been, I think, a pattern that we've seen, particularly at the New York Times, but elsewhere as well.

And the question is, when you are walking about priorities, what is the priority? I think this is in part because people in the United States either work for Rupert Murdoch - journalists in the United States -- either work for Rupert Murdoch, or they are his competitors. And so, I think people are out to get their pound of flesh right now and they're doing it in spades.

BAIER: Number of apologies today. James Murdoch apologizing numerous time, saying it's a matter of great regret for him and his family and how sorry the company is to not live up to standards. That said, do we have a sense, Karen, where this is going from here?

KAREN TUMULTY, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: Well, one of the things that was sort of interesting to note was that that was an American lawyer, Joel Klein, siting over Rupert Murdoch's shoulder.

There are actually some potential legal implications in this country. Don't forget News Corp. is, in fact, based -- is legally incorporated in the United States. So there are some questions as to whether some of these alleged bribes might have triggered, you know, tripped the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

BAIER: The FBI is investigating. And the attorney general apparently is going to meet with 9/11 victims on this very issue --

TUMULTY: And News Corp. owns a lot of U.S. television stations. And the FCC has in the past, and for instance with RKO in the 1970's, looked at the fitness of the licensee as it's deciding whether to renew these licenses. So there are a number of other directions in this country that this case could go.

BAIER: Do you really think it goes there?

TUMULTY: You know, I just don't know. It's -- the match has now been set to the gasoline. You just don't know where these things go.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: I think it will depend hugely on whether the one report from one tabloid in England about the hacking of the 9/11 victims is a true story or not. It's un-sourced, second hand -- third hand, I think, and nobody has yet produced any evidence of it. If there is evidence of it, this is a major event.

The Murdochs I thought did rather well in defending themselves. They were on the defensive, but nothing particularly new emerged. I thought they were suitably apologetic about the hacking, particularly the scandalous hacking of victims. And I thought they looked rather sincere in saying they were shocked and appalled by it and apologized. But it will hinge on whether -- it will cross the Atlantic if there was hacking of 9/11 victims.

I must say what was interesting to me was to compare this to an American inquisition in our Congress, here we're supposed to be republic and not a monarchy. The members of Congress are way up on a podium looking down on the defendant. There it looked like a cafeteria discussion. There were no sort of accusatory speeches as you get in Congress. It was mostly asking sharp questions. It was an interesting contrast.

BAIER: We continue to follow it here on Fox and on "Special Report." That's it for panel. But stay tuned to see what could be the president's new sales pitch.

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