Senator Pat Geary: Would you expand on your response? I'm interested to know, was there always a buffer involved? Willie Cicci: A what? Geary: A buffer. Someone in between you and your possible superiors who passed on to you the actual order to kill someone. Cicci: Oh yeah, a buffer. The family had a lot of buffers!
The Godfather Part IINews Corp, like the Corleone crime family, has a lot of buffers. Their existence—though nobody actually used the word “buffer”—was a major feature of today’s hearings in London. Of course, the testimony heard by MPs today came not from the Willie Ciccis of the Murdoch media empire—that might have been a little more interesting—but from Murdoch family members, and their former consigliore Rebekah Brooks. Murdoch senior said he was not aware that Brooks had admitted in 2003 that journalists had paid police for information, that he was also not informed about out-of-court payments sanctioned by his son, that he had never heard of Gordon Taylor (one of those paid off by his company) or Neville Thurlbeck (the former chief reported arrested earlier this year), that he was unaware of a select committee charge that News International executives of "collective amnesia." There were a lot of buffers between the company’s chief executive and those responsible for wrongdoing. Murdoch junior took a similar position. None of his underlings told him the truth about phone hacking, he said. He decided to settle the Taylor case on the advice of the former News of the World editor Colin Myler and legal counsel Tom Crone. "Management is delegated," he told the committee. There were a lot of buffers. Not surprisingly, Brooks used the same defense. Payments to private investigators were the responsibility of the paper's managing editor—a buffer. She was repeatedly told by News of the World staffers—more buffers—that allegations of phone hacking by the paper's journalists were untrue. Asked whether her curiosity as editor had been aroused by a News of the World story that cited a voicemail left on the cellphone of a teen murder victim: "I am sure questions were asked about where that information came from, they will have been asked of the reporter or they will have been asked by the news editor, the night editor would have checked them, the lawyer would have checked them.” Have you lost count of all the buffers yet? Says The Guardian’s Dan Sabbagh: “James Murdoch is either an incurious chief executive, or somebody who knew better than to ask the News of the World editor too many hard questions - or somebody the next level down felt they could not tell the truth to.” Or he watched The Godfather Part II as a child, and learned a valuable lesson about managing a criminal enterprise.