i Editor's Letter: Coolness under fire


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The Independent Online


Not many i readers appear to be Murdoch fans. But, whatever you may think of them, there really was something remarkable about James Murdoch’s performance at Parliament yesterday. Coached or not, he remained extraordinarily cool under fire throughout his two-and-a-half-hour inquisition.

OK, the inquisitors were not the strongest; one wished for a top barrister to do some real grilling; and you may have found his answers evasive, but although he took the odd glancing blow, the committee did not come close to landing a knockout punch. The usually admirable Tom Watson even took the custard pie this time, as he made a grandstanding attempt to link Murdoch with the Mafia and its code of “omerta”.

Whether grinding them down with jargon, or numbing us all through obfuscation, Murdoch appeared in control. Which is more than can be said for the man who made another high-profile live performance this week: Rick Perry, the unintended “star” of the latest live debate in the endless quest for a GOP candidate to run against Barack Obama in 2012.

The Texas Governor may have torpedoed his own campaign in a hapless live TV minute, scrabbling around in an attempt to recall the three government departments he proposes to cull in office. It was beyond awkward. Look it up online – and cringe.

I am not siding with Murdoch, or the former employees he blamed, who subsequently hit back. I am just marvelling at the coolness under fire he displayed. But, I suppose, it is the least one might expect from a multimillion-pound-earning senior corporate executive – or, for that matter, a man who would be president.