Humble pie! Murdoch hearing a splash in US

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Rupert Murdoch and his son James found themselves splashed on the front pages of US newspapers Wednesday as the American media offered unusually detailed coverage of the scandal rocking Britain.

US press fever is likely to heighten with reports that Murdoch -- a media mogul who made his name by operating tabloids with sensational headlines and saucy pictures -- is heading to the United States.

"Murdoch's humble pie," headlined USA Today, which ran a front-page picture of a prankster attempting to throw a foam pie at the News Corporation chief on Tuesday.

Major US television networks gave Tuesday's parliamentary committee hearing broad coverage, and several, including CNN and MSNBC, covered the event live.

"Media barons deflect blame at British hearing on hacking scandal," said the Washington Post. The paper's story pushed the ongoing drama over raising the US national debt to the side of the front page.

The New York Times described the hearing in its main story as "riveting theater" in which "a newly emboldened parliamentary committee" faced off against "the world's most powerful media mogul."

Interest was so intense that on CSPAN, a cable network that normally broadcasts US government proceedings, had live coverage of Prime Minister David Cameron facing sharp questions Wednesday relating to the phone hacking scandal from British lawmakers in the House of Commons.

"The News Corp. chief tells Britain's Parliament that people he trusted let him down," wrote the Los Angeles Times. "Neither side appears to gain much ground."

While Murdoch described the event as the "most humble day of my life," his conclusions Tuesday "were anything but," according to the California newspaper.

Pictures of Murdoch and his son were also on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, the prestigious paper Murdoch bought for $5 billion dollars in 2007, under the simple headline: "Murdochs are Grilled."

The News Corp. founder "forcefully apologized to victims of the phone hacking by his employees but declared he was not to blame," the newspaper reported.

The Fox News network, which is also part the Murdoch media empire, covered the Tuesday hearing but also broke in for other news.

Murdoch's empire includes the New York Post tabloid -- which largely ignored the hearing in its Wednesday edition -- the HarperCollins book publishing company, and the 20th Century Fox film and television studios studio.

US media critic Howard Kurtz, writing for The Daily Beast online magazine, noted that Murdoch "looked every one of his 80 years as he tried to deflect the committee's aggressive questions."

He described the event as "a halting performance by Rupert Murdoch, who came to the British Parliament to offer apologies for the scandal... but, in the end, took no personal responsibility at all."

© 2011 AFP

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