The problem with imagining that you're smarter than everyone else is that eventually someone will found your answers wanting. Never has this been more proven than in the sad case of James Murdoch, who today had to resign as News International chairman to spend more time with his ego. Like Leeson, his solution to the problems he faced was to plunge himself ever deeper into the mire. Just over a month after the Guardian had splashed on the payout News International had made to Gordon Taylor, a settlement authorised by a certain J Murdoch, he delivered his now notorious MacTaggart lecture in which he described the scope of the BBC's activities and ambitions as "chilling". He should have been rather more disturbed by the continued digging of Nick Davies, as all the BBC (and indeed his very own Sky) did was piggy-back on the investigations by the Graun and New York Times, those loss-makers unable to turn a profit, the very thing which in his opinion made independence unreliable.
As Michael Woolf writes, all he had to do was to maintain plausible deniability. His performance alongside Daddy was well measured, apart from the moment when Tom Watson asked him about willful blindness. It was only when the media committee kept on digging into how the settlement with Taylor came about that his defence fell apart: just about credible was that those reporting to him (Colin Myler and Tom Crone) may not have informed him of the full picture, fearing for their own jobs. Unbelievable was that he failed to read the crucial part of an email sent to him which he swiftly replied to, or that he was subsequently told about it in the meeting he arranged to discuss what they were going to do. Woolf claims he was playing internal politics, rather than participating in a cover-up, something I don't quite buy, but regardless of what he was doing it sowed his downfall.
From being in a position where he seemed destined to ascend to the throne of the company once Keith either retires or pops his clogs, he's now only slightly better off than Rebekah Brooks, disastrously promoted to CEO of News International by Rupe, apparently with James's blessing. It was her strategy of continuing to deny everything, accusing the Graun of "substantially and deliberately misleading the British public" that encouraged the paper to keep on pushing. If they had owned up then, it's still likely that the News of the World could have been saved. This though would have dropped dear Andy Coulson into it and in turn David Cameron, fast becoming Brooks' new best political mate. Woolf claims that poor James has effectively been sent to Coventry by the rest of the Murdoch clan, loathed by sister Liz for "fucking" Dad's company up, and barely on speaking terms with the old man himself. It would almost be sad if he hadn't set himself up for it.