News Corp. handled crisis 'extremely well': Murdoch
News Corp. chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch defended his company's handling of the phone-hacking scandal in Britain on Thursday and said it will recover from the crisis.
In an interview with the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal, Murdoch also said an independent committee led by a "distinguished non-employee" would "investigate every charge of improper conduct" made against News Corp.
The 80-year-old Murdoch said the damage to News Corp. in Britain, where it was forced to shutter the News of the World over the weekend because of the phone hacking, is "nothing that will not be recovered."
"We have a reputation of great good works in this country," he said.
Murdoch, in what the newspaper described as his first significant public comments since the scandal, said News Corp. has handled the crisis "extremely well in every way possible," making just "minor mistakes."
Murdoch told that Journal that the position of his son, James, the deputy chief operating officer of News Corp. and non-executive chairman of British satellite TV broadcaster BSkyB, is unchanged.
The cell phone hacking allegedly ended before James became the top News Corp. executive in charge of the News of the World but he has been the one largely managing the crisis.
"I think he acted as fast as he could, the moment he could," Murdoch said of James, adding that he had personally also acted appropriately.
"When I hear something going wrong, I insist on it being put right," he said.
News Corp. was forced to drop its bid for full control of BSkyB because of the phone-hacking by News of the World reporters but Murdoch strongly denied reports he may be considering a sale of some of his newspapers.
"Pure rubbish," he told the Journal. "Pure and total rubbish... give it the strongest possible denial you can give."
Murdoch said he was "annoyed" by the spate of negative headlines but would "get over it." "I'm tired," he said.
Murdoch told the Journal he had agreed to appear before a parliamentary committee in Britain next week after being told he would be summoned and to address "some of the things that have been said in parliament, some of which are total lies."
"We think it's important to absolutely establish our integrity in the eyes of the public," he said. "I felt that it's best just to be as transparent as possible."
Murdoch also said former British prime minister Gordon Brown had "got it entirely wrong" by claiming that News Corp. newspapers had illicitly obtained information about his family.
"The Browns were always friends of ours," Murdoch said, until the Sun, one of his papers, withdrew its support for the Labour Party.
News Corp. shares lost 3.11 percent to $15.44 on Wall Street on Thursday as the FBI launched a preliminary probe to see if the phone-hacking had reached American shores.
US lawmakers had been calling for days for a probe after allegations emerged in the press that News Corp. employees sought to gain access to the phone records of September 11 victims.
© 2011 AFP