How We Broke the Murdoch Scandal

By Rusbridger, Alan | Newsweek, July 25, 2011 | Go to article overview

How We Broke the Murdoch Scandal

Rusbridger, Alan, Newsweek

Byline: Alan Rusbridger; Rusbridger Is Editor In Chief Of The Guardian.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger on his dogged reporter, a U.S. ally--and a gamble that finally paid off.

Every so often--perhaps once every 18 months--the veteran Guardian writer Nick Davies comes into my office, shuts the door with a conspiratorial backward glance, and proceeds to tell me something hair-raising.

In June last year he wanted to inform me about Julian Assange. He'd read that the (then little-known) snowy-haired hacker was on the run with a data stick full of millions of secret documents that the U.S. Defense and State departments had carelessly hemorrhaged. His plan was to track him down -- and then The Guardian would publish them all. Good idea?

Early in 2009 there had been a similar moment. He'd discovered that James Murdoch, the son and heir of the most powerful private news-media company on earth, had done a secret deal to pay more than $1 million to cover up evidence of criminal behavior within the company. Interested?

The answer to both questions was--of course. Followed by a small inner gulp at the sheer scale and implications of the stories. Followed by the sight of Nick, invariably dressed in jeans and a defiantly unfashionable brown leather jacket, disappearing back out through the door in search of trouble.

Everyone knows how WikiLeaks ended: a global swarm of revelations and headlines, with governments the world over transfixed by the daily drip-feed of disclosures, war logs, classified cables, and diplomatic indiscretions. And now everyone knows how the Murdoch story ended: with a kind of giant heave of revulsion at what his employees had been up to, and with a multibillion-dollar merger stopped in its tracks by the most overwhelming parliamentary vote anyone can remember. A profitable newspaper selling millions of copies a week had been killed off. The British press regulator was dead in the water.

Except the Murdoch story isn't finished. It reaches so deeply into so many aspects of British and American civic life--including policing, politics, media, and regulation--that the story will continue to play out over the months, even years, ahead. Everyone expects more arrests. There are numerous civil actions wending their way through the British courts. There will be two public inquiries--into the behavior of press and police. And who knows what trouble the News Corp. shareholders or American regulatory authorities might create the more they learn about the management of the British wing of the family business.

Rewind to July 2009 and think how different it could have been. Up to this point the official narrative was straightforward. News of the World's royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, had been caught "hacking" the palace phones. Or, rather, he had subcontracted the job to a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, who was expert at accessing voice messages and cracking any security (such as PIN numbers) that a victim might have put in place. The police had pounced. The two men went to jail, and News International told everyone--press, Parliament, police, and regulator--that Goodman was a lone rotten apple. The editor, Andy Coulson, resigned, protesting that he knew nothing about any of it. Game over.

The Guardian's story on July 9, 2009, blew all that apart. It showed that there had been another junior reporter at work transcribing voice messages left for the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, Gordon Taylor, and sending them "to Neville"--a reference to NotW's long-standing chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck. So that was two more NotW journalists in the know. Some executive must have instructed the junior reporter, which would make three. And a named executive (who might or might not have been directing the young reporter) had signed a bonus contract for Mulcaire if he landed the Taylor story. So that was three, maybe four, in addition to Goodman. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

How We Broke the Murdoch Scandal


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.