30 April 2012

Gove, Klein and Murdoch - a Very 'Educational' Triumvirate!

Last week at the Leveson Inquiry, we were asked to suspend all disbelief and to accept Rupert Murdoch's assurance that he never uses his papers to promote his business interests. Never. He simply doesn't do business like that, apparently. Ever.

I tried. Truly I did....
Unfortunately, my pesky curiosity had been piqued some months ago by something I read on a U.S. blog:-
Billionaire Rupert Murdoch owns Fox News, which promotes both a "corporate education reform" agenda and politicians like Governor Chris Christie to carry that agenda out. Murdoch recently hired Joel Klein, former NYC Schools Chancellor and toady to billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to run Wireless Generation, Murdoch's venture into the education business.
The name Joel Klein rang a bell. When Rupert and James Murdoch appeared together last year to be questioned by the DCMS Select Committee, a figure seated almost directly behind them caught my attention:-
 He sat impassively throughout the whole proceedings, barely blinking, yet strangely tense. It turns out that he, Joel Klein, had been appointed in 2010 as a 'fixer' by News Corp to deal with the turmoil resulting from the phone-hacking scandal.
 Obviously a man very close to Rupert Murdoch, he was also present at the Leveson Inquiry this week, seated with Wendi and Lachlan Murdoch in the courtroom.
( More information on Joel Klein HERE )

During his testimony, Rupert Murdoch was asked by Mr Jay (taken from official transcript):-
Mr Jay: Fair enough. May I ask you about Mr Gove. Is he a politician who is close to you?
Rupert Murdoch: No, I wish he was. He was - I don't say that any other than to say that he worked with me, had a very distinguished career at the Times for a long time. I might have met him very occasionally then, walking through the Times. I think he and his wife, who is also a distinguished journalist there, they've come to dinner once the last two or three years, that's with his wife. The I think there was another occasion when Mr Joel Klein was with me and he came over because he was to do a conference with Mr Gove on education. That was -- he was invited when he was -- long before he joined me. when he was chancellor of the New York City school system. And there might have been another one. I like to get a few people around me of interest and different, from different fields, not just politicians.

Michael Gove, Joel Klein and the US Charter School Experts observe a maths lesson at the King Solomon Academy. 

Ahead of the Free Schools Conference, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, Schools Minister Lord Hill, Joel Klein, former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, Monique Miller and Josephine Baker, US Charter Schools visit King Solomon Academy on Friday 28 January 2011. 

King Solomon Academy is run by the education charity ARK and is also one of the proposers wishing to set up free schools.

There are many reports in the press and elsewhere which show the close liaison between Michael Gove, Joel Klein and Rupert Murdoch:

Who Do They Know - Michael Gove's Meetings with NI execs.
What Gove's Meetings With Murdoch Tell us - New Statesman

During his testimony to the Leveson Inquiry, Rupert Murdoch repeatedly denied that he had any influence over his editors or journalists. He contradicted himself later when he said, flatly denying that he was able to shape the policies of governments,: 'If you want to judge my thinking, look at the Sun.' 
Let's look at Mr Murdoch's thinking on education through the eyes of a Sun reader (if you're a teacher reading this blogpiece, you may wish to don a hardhat and book a precautionary course of anger-management sessions..):-

Ed Balls News: Labour ex-Minister Slammed by Michael Gove - Sun
Time to root out the Bad Teachers - Sun
Teachers Strikes: the Class Divide - Sun
Reward our Top Teachers and Dump the Duds - Sun
Labour's Grade Betrayal: Michael Gove Has Accused Labour of Betraying a Generation of Poorest Kids - Sun 
17 Duff Teachers Axed in 10 Years - Sun
Blair's Teacher Son to Strike - Sun
How Academies Will Benefit ALL Children - Sun

 These articles offer no real investigative journalism. They are full of exaggeration and skewed facts and on the whole do not represent a fair, balanced appraisal of the British education system. They are 'knocking copy', intended to prime the public, to bring about a belief that our education system is rotten and needs a complete, radical overhaul.
Rupert Murdoch and Joel Klein
  The pieces contain the same message as the one contained in a diatribe speech from Rupert Murdoch during his appearance at the Leveson Inquiry, when we were treated to his views on the prognosis and cure for our ailing schools and society - exactly the same message, too, as that of Joel Klein in his efforts in the U.S. to clean up their defective education system!

Below is a very telling and acerbic animation made in the U.S:-

Just one example highlighting how Klein's approach has a similar ring about it to those of Murdoch and his megaphone, the Sun:-
Joel Klein Compares Teachers to Murderers - Good Education

Michael Gove allegedly employs extremely secretive methods when planning and discussing his policies for British education with those close to him, instead of using official email and communications outlets:-

How Government Uses Private Emails and Texts to Evade Scrutiny - TBIJ
Education Department 'Deleted Email Exchanges' With Michael Gove Adviser - Guardian
BBC News - Michael Gove Loses 'Private Email' Battle
ICO Statement: Department of Education Decision Notice - ICO

 This, despite assurances that this government would be the most transparent and accountable ever! One wonders just what is being hidden - and why...
 Rupert Murdoch owns Harper Collins which publishes, amongst other genres, text-books for schools. Could this be at least part of the reason?

 I, for one, heard nothing from Rupert Murdoch last week during his two-day 'grilling' which would give me reason to believe his motives are in any way altruistic. Least of all in the realm of education.

Update - It would appear that when Gove met Murdoch and Klein at a site in London Docklands to discuss a possible 'News International Academy' or Free School, Boris Johnson was also in attendance.....as this article which appeared on the BBC Website today shows: - BBC News - London Mayor Boris Johnson in 'News International Links' - Video

26 April 2012

Leveson Inquiry - Hearing - Rupert Murdoch (Day 2)

Lord Justice Leveson

Useful Links:
Leveson Inquiry Witness Statements HERE 
Leveson Inquiry Witness Lists HERE
Video Recordings of each day's proceedings HERE
Live Feed From Leveson Inquiry Site HERE
BBC Democracy Live Feed HERE 
Guardian Live Blog HERE
Telegraph Live Blog HERE 
Links to articles, comment and information relevant to the Leveson Inquiry

Thursday, 26th April 2012

Rupert Murdoch - Day 2 - ( Day 1 HEREWitness Statement in Full
Transcripts and Further Exhibits from Rupert Murdoch                                                    

RM: Spoke to editor about Brown's handwritten letter to soldier's mother, thought paper too hard on the PM.
RM: As written in his own autobiography, Brown ordered Mandelson to say something he knew was not true.

Murdoch says that Mandelson "charged" NewsInt with "having done a deal with Cameron" in his book, a statement which he knew to be false.
Murdoch lays into Yelland abt his "very strange autobiography" when "he said he was drunk all the time...at the Sun, which we didn't notice"
Murdoch spends less than 10% of his time in the UK. Editors - "I think they know my philosophy yes"
Rupert Murdoch says he stands by every word of his claim that Gordon Brown phoned him to "declare war" after Sub sided with Tories
Murdoch says there are conversations with his editors pretty constantly, but says he doesn't call them to tell them what to do
LJ Leveson opining that Rupert Murdoch is capable of speaking his mind to Editors!
 "I'm sure your discussions are vigorous"
Jay picks up point he missed yday about RM saying his thinking can be judged by what's in Sun. RM says takes part in policy decisions
Murdoch #Leveson : there are conversations pretty constantly with Sun
Murdoch #Leveson : wish Gove was closer to me

LIkes Michael Gove. "wish he was" close to me. Distinguished career at the the Times. Had dinner with him once; met him at a conference
Murdoch drifts onto public education, his new hobby horse...wants to get involved in privatising education?

RM: I wish I was close to Michael Gove. Passionate about education, the standard here and in American is an "absolute disgrace".

Onto BSkyB bid and Jeremy Hunt. "Not sure I have ever met him". What about the US trip? "I don't think so".
Hunt too junior a politician for Rupert Murdoch to bother with clearly. Attacks Telegraph for "unethical" deletion of Cable Murdoch quotes.
Murdoch on Hunt. "We just thought we'd probably get a fairer go from anyone other than Dr Cable".
Murdoch says that News Corp is doing "other things" with the money it was going to spend on the Sky bid.
Murdoch says bid failed because of the "hacking scandal" not Dowler "misfortune". But says Dowler was the trigger even if ...
..."half of [the Dowler story] which was somewhat disowned by the police".
Murdoch being asked whether he ever had conversations with Jeremy Hunt, re BSkyB bid. Says may have met him at dinner once, can't recall
Jay: Didn't your son tell you that Mr Hunt was very much on side? Murdoch doesn't remember that 
Murdoch #Leveson : Telegraph running paper in its commercial interests (not publishing Cable Murdoch war quotes)
Murdoch #Leveson : anyone other than Cable would have been fairer on BSkyB bid
RM: JM told me when Cameron removed Cable’s responsibilities and put in Mr Hunt but I don’t believe he commented on it.

Guardian Live Blog:
Murdoch is asked if he was concerned by the delay in the BSkyB deal?
Murdoch says: "We didn't have to have it, we are doing other things with the money now. We did indeed [want it] we thought it was a good investment."
He adds that James did not give him an update on a daily or weekly basis. "I don't remember any conversation to be honest with you. I am assuming he kept me up to date to some extent. I delegated the situation to him. He had a lot on his plate, did not report perhaps as often ... but we did talk of course."
Murdoch is asked about Fred Michel, the News Corp head of public affairs, who extensively lobbied the office of Jeremy Hunt over the BSkyB deal in emails published by the inquiry on Tuesday.
Were you surprised by extent Michel's activities? "I didn't see anything wrong with his activities. Was I surprised it had gone on so long, there were so many emails? Yes."
He does not believe Michel had any success with his lobbying, adding that News Corp were forced to make considerable concessions before eventually dropping the bid in June last year.
Murdoch denies he believed Hunt was "on our side".
Jay asks whether Murdoch was surprised by "the degree of apparent closeness" between Michel and Hunt's office?
"I don't want to say anything against Mr Michel but I think there could have been a bit of exaggeration there," says Murdoch.

Chronology of hacking. #murdoch first heard of phacking from Les Hinton in Aug/Sep 2006. Jay says NI was not co-operating with police.
#murdoch disagrees. Police closed file. I can't believe they wd do that if they were unhappy with our co-operation.
Jay: Yr lawyers produced one document which was misleading and were obstructive. Does that shock you?
#murdoch: That shocks me deeply, and I was unaware of it and I've not heard of it until you said that. [quite a quote]
#murdoch says he didn't know that NI was still refusing to waive privilege so their lawyers can't give full disclosure on their actions then
Jay says #murdoch did know that when he gave evidence to Parliament. #leveson explains in detail what it means.

Peter Clarke who ran 1st police investigation into hacking told parliament last yr and leveson this yr that NI were deeply obstructive
Yet Murdoch appears completely oblivious to that evidence... 
Murdoch admits there was a 'cover-up' over hacking, but appears to claim NI were the 'victims'. 

Senior executives were all informed and i - were all misinformed & shielded from anything that was going on there.We were victim of cover up
[without naming Myler] #murdoch says new editor never reported back there was more hacking. Appointed lawyers [Harbottle & Lewis]
I cannot understand a law firm reading that and not ringing chief exec and saying "Hey you've got some big problems".
J:Where does this culture of cover-up emanate from Mr Murdoch? M:From within the NotW.1 o2 v strong characters there been there many years
The person I am thinking of was friend of journos, a drinking pal and a clever lawyer. Forbade people to report to Mrs Brooks or to James. 
That is not to excuse it at all. I take it extremely seriously. [that was a major allegation. Jay avoids following the thread]
J:Myler was too weak. M:That's a slight exaggeration. I hoped Myler wd do what he was commissioned to do. #leveson He did not report back.
#murdoch Maybe [Myler] didnt find anything out. J:Did you tell Hinton that Coulson had to resign? M:No.
Murdoch: "No question someone...maybe even the editor, certainly beyond that, someone took charge of a cover-up" (on hacking) 

Murdoch blaming Harbottle & Lewis. H&L has accused News Int of "self serving" view in past. Say they had v narrow instruction, spent 2 weeks
Murdoch #Leveson : Hinton chose Myler as notw ed, wdnt have been my choice, stronger people on Sun

Murdoch representative walks up to NI counsel to talk to them as RM is questioned about hacking. Told off by Leveson. NI people seem worried
Rupert Murdoch says Colin Myler 'would not have been my choice' for Editor of the News of the World. 'I can think of some stronger people'
As Murdoch was discussing law firms role, one of his team next to me sprung to his feet and headed over to barristers bench...
LJ Leveson then immediately asked the lawyer to sit down and not do it again

Just asked the Murdoch man who was told to sit down for his name: 'no comment'. I understand he's John Turnbull from Linklaters
I believe this is the lawyer with Murdoch team who won't tell us who he is

Guardian Live Blog:
Jay suggests the News International's response to phone hacking was a "desire to cover up not expose".
"With minds like yours," suggests Murdoch before quickly adding "I take that back."
Leveson makes a noise that sounds like disapproval.
Jay assures him: "I'm very thick-skinned Mr Murdoch, do not worry one moment."
[A very different atmosphere in #leveson inquiry this morning. #Murdoch is putting blame on himself.]

A very different feel about today at #Leveson gone are the smiles and occasional jokes. Clearly very uncomfortable ground for #Murdoch
RM: July 09 Guardian article "hostile" and "personalised". We choose to take the word of the police over the word of the Guardian.
RM on Guardian: I've often expressed admiration for them. I think they look after their audience pretty well.
Real frisson here over the exchange between Murdoch and Jay about why Burton Copeland internal News hacking probe never published
Police have asked Jay to tell Murdoch that they never said they came to view only one rogue reporter

Murdoch #Leveson : often expressed admiration for Guardian, they look after their audience pretty well
Rupert says Guardian "looks after their audience pretty well". Can't quite agree that without the G the story would not hv emerged.
Murdoch denies ringing Blair to ask for Labour to back off on phone hacking in 2009.

Murdoch tries to downplay seminal role played by Guardian in exposing hacking scandal
Murdoch: don't intend to read Tom Watson's book 'Dial M for Murdoch' [laughter in room] 
Jay refers to Tom Watson's 'Dial M for Murdoch'. RM: I'm not planning on reading it.
RM: If you’ve got 20 journalists and paparazzi and microphones in your mouth, you are under duress [on "this one" Brooks moment].

Asked about saying his main priority was Rebekah Brooks, RM says was referring to media scrum 
RM says doesn't want to talk about Mrs Brooks until we have "heard from her". Says he was boosting her self confidence
Murdoch still defending the honour of the paper, says it is a "vast exaggeration" the paper was mostly interested in salacious gossip

Murdoch #Leveson : if you've 30 journos and paps around you you are under duress (Leveson says will return)
Murdoch #Leveson : it's part of the game. (What's the game?) RM: harass people
Murdoch #Leveson : unfair to Sun to lump it together with notw
Murdoch #Leveson : John Major bitter with press but may be element of truth in his criticisms

Murdoch says Brooks was seeking to resign at the infamous Sunday night dinner; Murdoch was trying to restore her confidence.
We have great vibrant press...10/11 newspapers..don't know why only 3 of them make money (it's more than that Rupert). Great competition.
Murdoch says Mirror under Piers Morgan had some great front pages, incl picture of Murdoch w horns coming out his head (anybody got link?)
Natural for "unpopular" John Major to make sweeping allegations against the press, says Rupert.
Murdoch repeats "Nazi orgy" as if the Mosley trial had never had happened. NoW lost on the Nazi point.
Murdoch says he is a lot more shocked by behaviour of Times lawyer Mr Brett (in Nightjack case) not what happened in Mosely case.
Leveson making clear that he agrees with Eady ruling in Mosely case. Believes that Woman E was a victim of 'blackmail.' Is that justifiable?
Faced with that, Murdoch retreats as regards the Mosely case. What Murdoch was trying to say is that journalists do deals for stories.
"I don't ask any politician to scratch by back," says Murdoch. I'm not "falling for" that question, he says.
Murdoch says his housekeeper was good at cleaning, but you can't believe his word either...
RM refers to "Nazi orgy" in relation to Mosley. Then says he hasn't read the judgement…
RM: I respect Eady J and respect what he says, I'm saying a journalist doing a favour for someone returning one back is everyday.

#Leveson makes it v clear there was no Nazi element, Eady found as such
Murdoch #Leveson : agreed with Mail attack on Google re porn, was strong but fair 
Murdoch #Leveson : reveals Dacre was to have been made Times editor; but "really shocked" he said Mail ed policy was based on commercial int

[ #murdoch repeats the "Nazi orgy" accusation against Max Mosley which his paper has paid £60K damages for. But I think he's got privilege.]
#murdoch is forced to retract his claim that behaviour of @nthurlbeck towards witnesses in Mosley case was not blackmail but part of game.
#murdoch "No. I don't ask pols to scratch back." Adds: "That's a nice twist, but No, I'm not falling for it." [great cut and thrust here]

Dramatic moment, #Leveson tells Murdoch approach of persuading people to talk to avoid a 'bad story' is a form of 'blackmail'. Long pause.
Murdoch "I was really shocked" by stmnt of Dacre the other day, that his editorial policy was "driven by commercial interests". Unethical.
Then says Dacre is a "great success" but says he was shocked that ed policy of Mail is "driven by commercial interests". KRM to attack. 
Murdoch says NewsInt has done hacking compliance check at the NY Post + in Australia. "Want to be absolutely certain," this only UK issue.

#murdoch sd before attacking Dacre/Mail: "I am under strict instructions from my lawyers not so say this, but...
[In the short pause after that, #leveson interrupted "I think you just caused 3 coronaries". Laughter in court and press room]
"Costs of maintaining ethics in papers is peanuts compared with the hundreds of millions that this whole scandal and inquiry has cost us."
Murdoch rejects Andrew Neil accusation that Rupert sets the culture. Says editor has duty to be responsible, not chairman.
#murdoch agrees with Jay that the chairman sets the ethical tone.[But he does so in the context of his entire group of 175 papers]

From Guardian Live Blog:
Murdoch says that Andrew Neil, the former editor of the Sunday Times, has found it "very profitable to spread lies about me".He says spreading myths about Murdoch has become an industry, which he hopes the Leveson inquiry will put to bed.
Murdoch asks whether the inquiry will put all his evidence on the public website. "I don't give answers to questions, Mr Murdoch, I only ask them," Jay replies, to a bemused grin from Murdoch.
Jay turns to questions that have been put by another core participant.
Did he ever instruct an editor to promote other business interests?
"I have no business interests," Murdoch says. "I would certainly suggest to the editor of the Sun that it would be good to mention what's coming up in our new newspaper on Sunday."
He denies telling journalists to promote News Corp's TV shows or films. "You wanna read the reviewers in the New York Post of Fox Films – they kill 'em," he says.
Has he asked his newspapers to make life uncomfortable?
"No," Murdoch says.
Why did you close the News of the World rather than tough it out?
Murdoch says:
I think that's explained in my statement, but I could put it a little more succicntly. When the Milly Dowler was first given huge publicity – I think newspapers took the chance to make this a huge national scandal, it made people all over the country aware of this, you could feel the blast coming in the window. I'll say it succinctly: I panicked, but I'm glad I did. And I'm sorry I didn't close it years before and put a Sun on Sunday in. I tell you what held us back: News of the World readers. Only half of them read the Sun. Only a quarter, regular."
He describes the phone-hacking scandal as "a serious blot on my reputation"
Jay: Why did you close #NOTW rather than tough it out? Murdoch says I panicked.. but am glad I did
Murdoch tells #Leveson Inquiry he wishes he'd closed the #NOTW years ago and se up a Sunday Sun!

Powerful stuff. Murdoch on closing NOTW: 'I panicked, but I'm glad I did. I'm sorry I didn't close it years before' 
Murdoch on hacking: "there was no attempt by me ..or several levels below me...to cover it up". Not quite what he said earlier.
You saw our response to Sienna Miller, we thought we had a major problem. Realised that company had been "disrespectful" of parliament too.
Rupert says I am the man cleaning it up. We have examined 300m emails being examined. That led to a dozen "midnight" (no) arrests at Sun.
(Murdoch didn't say Sun, but that's what he meant). Says he was distressed by some of those arrests + says "I'm glad we did it". 
Murdoch on the Sun: "Showing in the Sun that you can still produce the best newspaper without the bad practices that were exposed".
Murdoch on ethics..."we are now a new company altogether".
Murdoch says he should have "cross examined" Goodman myself. If come to "conclusion he was telling the truth, I wld hv torn the place apart"

"Asking Prime Ministers for favours would be unethical...that's why I didn't do it. And I invite you to ask them." [Break for 5 mins]
Today's unanswered question. Why has NewsCorp insisted that the first hacking lawyers, Burton Copland are not released from privilege?
Mr Jay asking Rupert Murdoch about corporate governance and compliance..
Jay moves on to #murdoch's attitude to regulation. Jay asks if he sees that wrongdoing can be a spectrum from ethical to civil to criminal

If you are serious about it, you have to do it not at the criminal end, but holistically by instilling strong ethical culture. M: Yes.
J: Your failure to have proper internal governance NotW was a cavalier attitude to the business risk of unethical/criminal?

#murdoch "I think it's unfair to put that on me." Jay says NotW's "very being" was to take risks.. M: No it had a full time lawyer.

"It had systems. They proved inadequate and I'm sorry about that," #murdoch tells #leveson

#murdoch agrees that whole system of governance stood or fell on personalities and abilities of Tom Crone and Colin Myler.
Jay:"If the cost, as you say, of proper systems is low,shows even more that you ahd a "swashbuckling or cavalier attitude to these matters".
Murdoch: No. He then agrees with Jay that NotW was not an agent of the public interest but what the public was interested in...

RM: The News of the World, I'll be quite honest, was an aberration aand it's my fault.
RM: Should be more aware of PCC details but do know the no of complaints we've received and whether resolved or addressed.
RM: The MailOnline is a "great gossip site. Or bad, whichever way you look at it".

Speaking about politicians (and those celebrities with PR access) and their rights to privacy
Main examination over, now onto question from Paul Dacre's Counsel Kaplan:

[There are some questions now from other papers. Jonathan Kaplan rises to address his criticism of Paul Dacre.]
Kaplan says Dacre wasn't talking about editorial policy being driven by commercial concerns, but just about reasons for opposing Sky bid.
One night in the hands of the bankers I mortgaged my New York flat [he is explaining he went close to bust in funding his business]
Rupert Murdoch answering point from Dacre's Mr Kaplan.

Mr Hendy (NUJ)
Lawyer for National Union of Journalists wants to talk about ethical areas:treatment of journos and photographers contributing to scandals.
NUJ wants to ask whether allowing NUJ into Wapping wouldn't be a good idea. Shd NI & others have a conscience clause.
NUJ wants to ask whether allowing NUJ into Wapping wouldn't be a good idea. Shd NI & others have a conscience clause.
#murdoch tells NUJ there hasn't been unethical treatment of journalists at NI. Rejects allegations of "endemic bullying" of staff.
M:Our journalists are perfectly free to make complaints&join the NUJ. #leveson reminds #murdoch of Matt Driscoll bullying.He doesnt know it.
Murdoch: if I hadn't beaten the old craft unions...there wouldn't be such a good democratic press (as we have today) 
RM: Why didn't she [anonymous journalist] resign [from NoW]? #Leveson: I think the problem with that might be that she needs a job.
#murdoch says has never heard of bullying at NotW."They always strike me as a happy crowd." [NotW'ers on my twitterfeed isn't a happy crowd]
#murdoch says he would accept democratic decision if News Intl journos voted for the NUJ.
[Odd that #murdoch doesn't know about £750K payment to Driscoll.He sd Taylor settlement(£425K) shd have been known to him]
#murdoch Sure some NotW journalists were once members of NUJ. "It didn't stop them doing what they did".

Murdoch interested in idea of a "conscience clause" in journalist contracts. Video that. Be stunned if NewsInt went for that.

That concludes the evidence from Rupert Murdoch.