Monday, July 25, 2011

Phone Hacking Scandal and the 26th Law of Power (part 2)

Remember I had pointed out that in my last post on this topic...
According to the 26th law of power from the book, "The 48 Laws of Power"

Basic Law: "Keep Your Hands Clean: You must seem a paragon of civility and efficiency: your hands are never soiled by mistakes and nasty deeds. Maintain such a spotless appearance by using others as scapegoats and cat's-paws to disguise your involvement."


If this was a movie and the whole editorial staff didn't get fired I could see the detective saying. "Not firing the one in charge was your mistake as that person connects you directly to the crime... that and the settlements you made makes this a juicy case..." but, nowadays, you can just close down a building and people are so caught up in names that they associate the name News Of The World with all the wrong deeds done by individuals (i.e. the deeds were done by people NOT a building).

I find this new use of the 26th law of power very disturbing.

Developments since my last post on this topic (Jul 8th)

About 1 week after my post: "Les Hinton, the chief executive of Dow Jones and Rupert Murdoch's right-hand man, resigned from News Corp on Friday night, a statement from the company said. Hinton, who led Murdoch's News International when the phone-hacking allegations first arose, quit hours after Rebekah Brooks, News International's chief executive, also resigned."

Getting rid of two top executives is a much better use of the 26th Law of Power. However, he made some mistakes in implementing the scapegoat technique to get out of trouble (and not just with the huge delay in executing the firings). Here is more about the 26th Law of Power (i.e. when using it is inappropriate)
Reversal: The cat's paw and scapegoat must be used with extreme caution and delicacy. They are like screens that hide your own involvement in dirty work from the public; if at any moment the screen is lifted and you are seen as the manipulator, the puppet master, the whole dynamic turns around - your hand will be seen everywhere, and you will be blamed for misfortunes you may have had nothing to do with. Once the truth is revealed, events will snowball beyond your control. [From "The 48 Laws of Power"].

A look at developments and mistakes (with some comments) since July 8th:

"Anne Simpson, the Briton who is in charge of corporate governance at Calpers, said that it was time for change at the company, which gives special voting powers to shares held by the Murdoch family. "News Corp does not have one share one vote. This is a corruption of the governance system. Power should reflect capital at risk. Calpers sees the voting structure in a company as critical. The situation is very serious and we're considering our options. We don't intend to be spectators – we're owners," she said. While the Murdochs own 12% of the company, their special B shares give them voting rights over 40% of the company. Calpers holds 6.4m shares."

Behaviour pattern: Like to keep control over decision making in his company.

The loss on Friday of Mr Hinton, a senior US-based adviser who has worked for Mr Murdoch for 52 years, and Ms Brooks, a pivotal figure in his UK operation and close family friend, capped a second tumultuous week for the News Corp chairman.

Claims not to have any involvement of the decision making even though he obviously likes to keep control and has an extremely long family friend relationship. (i.e. the involvement and behaviour pattern is such that ones the scapegoat technique is used appropriately you have to take a 'hit' or take responsibility of some sort)

"Labour leader Ed Miliband has called for new media ownership rules to limit Rupert Murdoch's "dangerous" and "unhealthy" concentration of power. He told the Observer Mr Murdoch's large market share led to "abuses of power".

True. concentration of wealth and influence in the hand of of a few (or one) can lead to abuse - Proof of Murdoch's abuse of power is here.

The following extracts are from Murdoch's questioning (transcript is located here.):
"Q: Why was no one fired in April, when the company took responsibility for large-scale phone hacking?

RM says people in the company were guilty. "We have to find them and we have to deal with them appropriately."

JM says most of those responsible had long since left the company." ----- "• Rupert Murdoch denies overall responsibility for the phone hacking affair.

Q: Who is responsible?

RM says the people he trusted, and the people they trusted.

He says he worked with Les Hinton for 52 years. He would trust him with his life.

(It is not clear from this whether he thinks he has now been let down by Hinton, or whether he is saying he still trusts Hinton, but that Hinton was let down by others.)" .
From a strategy perspective... he's waiting to see what is proved against whom before he takes sides.

The mistake he made is simple;

There are moments when it is advantageous to not disguise your involvement or responsibility, but rather to take the blame yourself for some mistake. If you have power and are secure in it, you should sometimes play the penitent: With a sorrowful look, you ask for forgiveness from those weaker than you. [The 48 Laws of Power]

Rupert only used the above to the degree of saying that his being questioned, 'was the most humble moment' of his life. [Ironically that's what the Dowler family called him! "Hours after that statement, Rupert Murdoch met the parents and sister of Dowler in London. "He was very humbled and very shaken and very sincere," said Mark Lewis, the Dowler family lawyer." ]

This mistake is illustrated in the following interview;


‎1. 'People in Britain don't care about the royals or celebrity hackings' - so using an emotional card to push through public action on basic laws (as public knowledge can lead to public action; something that faith/ideology based political activists are excellent at) .

2. 'Apologized for everything and took responsibility for nothing' - check for abuse of the law of power - theme taking a short term hit for long term security. [Another mistake of the '48 Laws of Power' by Murdoch - Its time for his son to takeover] .

3. Murdoch's fox news is also using the 'he apologized so let him go' tactic.

Other interesting things Rupert said at his hearing:

RM 'The law should not be broken only campaigning for change' - i.e. Rupert doesnt believe anyone should break the law except as far as campaigning to change it goes. Which is fine but look what he's campaign contributions go towards...

"Rupert Murdoch donated $1m to a pro-business lobby in the US months before the group launched a high-profile campaign to alter the anti-bribery law – the same law that could potentially be brought to bear against News Corporation over the phone-hacking scandal."

Random comment: It irritates me that on one hand there are honorable illegals and on the other had there are newly made citizens in the US such as Murdoch. (Note: I'm indifferent to immigration issues except when it comes to Murdoch).

Future look out: RM ' i am the best person to clean this up' - It seems that RM follows the laws to some extant (excluding morality - see above) - With a change in laws requiring 'Truth in News for an informed populace' may encourage them to clean up Fox News?

1. "Notice how headlines always start on the left" - The joke makes a non-nonsensical connection of writing to 'left'. - Later shows Fox News doing the same thing [very clever!]

‎2. 1 min 28sec: Fox News has started reporting on the scandal!

‎3. 2 mins : "the news of the world is a hacking scandal that can't be denied [coughs] - [interrupted segment?] - "shouldn't we get beyond the scandal to the issue of hacking... bank of america has been hacked into, are they getting the same kinda attention they were getting back a year ago that newscorp is getting today" - A. Hackers wern't caught in the bank hacking incident, B. In this case it is the company doing the hacking (not a hacker doing a company) - This brings attention back on newscorp and seems to insist (in a round about way) that it should be investigated more as , for the first time, a hacker has been identified all the way to the top... could be a war going on in fox news?

4. "Both victims of being in the sentence with the word 'hack'" - As was the joke of 'left' with writing from 'left', above.

5. Accuses fox news anchors of being hacks when they are actually actors and actresses though they sometimes mess up. Nowadays, they are being trained much better... click here to watch an anchor compare a super size McDonalds meal to 'eating a Live Raccoon'. (Note: A raccoon is a rather large and possibly dangerous animal in the wild of the US).

Side Note:

1. ..."simple story, ma and pa owned newspaper" hacked dead girls phone.

‎2. Stewart, "well, i guess if the guys who were bribed don't think there is anything suspicious in the death of the guy who blew the whistle on the company providing the bribes, I'm satisfied." a. Parody of US citizen : This is a common attitude in the states where people will often believe most, if not everything, a particular authority figures says. In Pakistan its the opposite.

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