After James Murdoch's performance at the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee Tuesrday afternoon, there has been some debate as to whether he performed well enough to save his career at News International.
In the short term, there is little doubt that James Murdoch is safe -- but in the long term, does the company need to fire top executives, including James Murdoch, to move on from the crisis? Can Rupert Murdoch really launch another bid for BskyB if his son is at the head of the company?
James Murdoch's performance yesterday was highly dignified and clearly rehearsed. Rupert Murdoch's son has bought himself time at the company, but he will have to show further evidence that he and the company is willing to change. He has resisted pressure to resign as chairman of the broadcaster, and it is fair to say that if he had not performed in the way he did Tuesday, there would have been calls for his head.
Rupert Murdoch's son clearly had a grasp of the company and his in-depth knowledge of his father's organization was most impressive. However, he was tripped up on numerous occasions -- especially when it came to payments made to Andy Gray and Max Clifford over phone-hacking allegations. James and Rupert Murdoch were accused of paying Max Clifford £1m in order to keep the story quiet, but when the phone-hacking questions began flying, Andy Gray was only paid £20,000. It was clear that neither Murdoch had an answer in relation to that line of questioning.
There was a difference in the way both Murdochs approached the proceedings. James was far more respectful to the committee members, looking them in the eye when answering as well as involving the whole committee. However, Rupert was far more aggressive. He would bang his fists on the table when making his points and at times he looked disinterested with the line of questioning. James Murdoch was clearly trying to portray himself as somebody who understood the gravity of the situation. Time will tell as to whether his performance will save his job.
Michael Wolff, Rupert Murdoch's biographer, believes that James Murdoch has lost all credibility and he has to go for the company to move forward under Rupert Murdoch's leadership. Wolff told Bloomberg Television: "I think he's finished, over, toast. He just has no credibility." Wolff continued, "I think Rupert is as involved in this as James, but James ran this show and was in charge of the management of the scandal. He was in charge of the people who committed these crimes. He is the directly responsible executive."
As the police take over from the MP's Select Committee, time will tell whether James Murdoch will remain in his position. Clearly he has bought himself a little more time -- but he is in the direct firing line.