As Rupert Murdoch made his way into Parliament on July 19, 2011, to answer questions about the phone-hacking scandal engulfing his media empire, ruination hung in the air. Readers were boycotting his papers. The stock of News Corp., of which he is chairman and chief executive officer, was plummeting. Political outrage had forced him to abandon the biggest media deal he had ever worked on. Lawmakers in the U.S. and the U.K. were calling for investigations. Even Hugh Grant was on the warpath, appearing everywhere to advocate for an aggressive public inquiry into the wrongdoings. And lurking in the wings was a man intent on hitting Murdoch in the face with a shaving cream pie.
The end of the Murdoch epoch felt at hand. “Rupert Murdoch and his son James arrived here at the British Parliament, moments ago, facing a crush of cameras, and a throng of people,” ABC News’ Jeffrey Kofman informed American viewers. “But the headline this morning: reports that Murdoch may actually step down from the helm of News Corporation as this crisis threatens to destroy a $33 billion global empire.”