Monday, August 19, 2013


"Lawyers for the media behemoth have pleaded with the Met and the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute the company as it would not be in the “public interest” to put thousands of jobs at risk. Gerson Zweifach, the group general counsel of News Corp., flew in to London for emergency talks with the Met last year. According to Scotland Yard, he told police: 'Crappy governance is not a crime. The downstream effects of a prosecution would be apocalyptic. The US authorities’ reaction would put the whole business at risk, as licences would be at risk.'”

NOTE:   I rarely run into references to or quotations from old friends while scanning the newspapers, but the above excerpt from last weekend’s Independent article entitled Met Investigating Rupert Murdoch Firm News International As "Corporate Suspect" Over Hacking And Bribing Offences (Link), featuring the quote from my childhood friend Gerson Zweifach, is an exception.  Gerson’s pithy remark is, of course, correct.  Crappy corporate governance is not (usually) a crime.  (By the way, I suspect that only the first sentence are Gerson’s actual words; the rest, although it may be an accurate paraphrase, is anglicized usage that doesn't sound like him at all, unless working for News Corp. has caused him suddenly to go all British or Australian, which I doubt.)  

This opinion, by the way, isn’t intended in any way to justify the practice of phone hacking as a news-gathering practice, which is deplorable in every way, but clearly: (a) not exclusively the domain of the Murdoch newspapers; and (b) prosecutable in a manner that doesn’t affect irrelevant parts of a large, multi-faceted organization comprised of separate, unrelated constituent elements.

Putting News Corp.’s entire business and the security of its tens of thousands of employees at risk in order to pursue seemingly endless political vendettas against Rupert Murdoch is reckless, cruel, unjustified, and above all unnecessary.

During the many years I worked at a News Corp. division , I watched colleagues, many of them good friends, all political liberals, make great and regular shows of embarrassment about working for Mr. Murdoch, while simultaneously and strenuously climbing the corporate greasy pole. The hypocrisy was noxious, but as they say,  it’s a living and prop-principles are unfortunately a big part of the shadow puppet play of corporate life.  As Bob Dylan put it so well, show me someone who isn’t a parasite and I’ll go out and say a prayer for him.

The photo in first position is one I found last weekend while cleaning out long unattended dresser drawers.  It shows Gerson in Paris in 1971, the summer before we both began college, probably in the vicinity of the Boulevard St. Michel.  Our travel paths somehow crossed and suddenly he was there.We had fun for a couple of days, although I’ve hardly seen him since.    

I do recall us visiting the Luxembourg Gardens and, I’m sure, drinking an Orangina or two.     

By the way, I’m certain that Gerson and Rupert Murdoch regularly vote for different political candidates.  Gerson simply has a lawyer’s sense of right, wrong, sensible and stupid.

As far as Mr. Murdoch’s recently reported comments about the ancient, dishonorable Fleet Street practice of paying police officers small sums in exchange for news items, I’m sure that’s true. (He would certainly know.)  In these parlous times I find it difficult to get excited about it, however. 

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