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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

While testifying before a committee of the British Parliament with his son, James, Rupert Murdoch was pied in the face by a comedian named Johnnie Marbles — if we are to believe Mr. Marbles’ Tweets.

Describing the incident, The Guardian referred readers to the Urban Dictionary definition of “clusterfuck.” As Prime Minister David Cameron returned from a foreign trip amid scandal, the Murdoch family was served a slice of humble pie, or an eye for a pie.

Talking Points Memo highlights the action, including footage of Rupert’s wife Wendi stepping in to deflect the “foam hacking.”

During their testimony, the Murdochs repeatedly pleaded ignorance, denying any prior knowledge of journalistic impropriety. As James began to answer the committee’s first question, Murdoch Sr. interrupted him. “I would just like to say one sentence: This is the most humble day of my life.”

Asked later whether he felt responsible, however, Murdoch curtly said “no” and brushed off calls for his resignation, claiming, “I’m the best person to clean this up.” Both Murdochs offered their apologies, though neither accepted blame for the conduct of their employees or a comparison with the “willful blindness” of former Enron executives. Of the now-defunct News of the World tabloid, which enjoyed an average circulation of 2.8 million subscribers, Rupert merely conceded, “it was so small in the general frame of our company.”

Brooks, who testified after the Murdochs left, was soft-spoken and earnest during the hearing, showing none of the irreverence trumpeted in recent profiles. She said that she learned of the allegations of “voicemail interceptions” — her chosen phrase, which sounds a lot better than phone-hacking — only after other newspapers broke the story two weeks ago.

Though outwardly deferential to the MPs, Brooks refused to give clear answers on several questions, including whether she was on vacation when hired private detectives hacked Dowler’s phone, as News Corp officials originally claimed. She described her relationship with Prime Minister David Cameron as “appropriate.” “I have never been horse riding with the Prime Minister,” she said, alluding to recent allegations in the press, in one of the more lighthearted moments of the hearing.

Just in case you’re actually British or care more about endemic corruption than Jude Law’s voicemail, Sir Paul Stephenson, the now disgraced former Metropolitan police commissioner, revealed today before the Home Affairs Select Committee that former News International journalists represent nearly a quarter of the Met’s public affairs office.

Check our live-blogging for more detailed coverage, including the subsequent testimony of arrested former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks.

Jessica Stein and Samuel Knowles contributed to this story

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