Friday, July 15, 2011

Fall of a Dictator?

The pattern repeats itself throughout history. The dictator eventually oversteps his bounds one time too many and the people revolt. Where once they cowered in fear, now they step up and declare, “enough is enough.” The dictator must go.

And the dictator decides he better make some concessions to keep his ultimate power in place. Some demands of protestors are met, but the protests become more intense. Rather than pacify the people, the concessions embolden them. The dictator is uncertain, for the first time in a very long time, on what to do. One minute he is defiant, the next he is back to making concessions. He fires his cabinet, backs down from some of his more odious policies, but the protests mount.

And the dictator falls.

And no one can remember how it was that the dictator could hold sway for so long. The fall was that abrupt.

This morning Rupert Murdoch fired Rebekah Brooks, his long-time confidant, the chief executive of his British newspaper operations, the woman at the center of the hacking scandal, and someone Murdoch had stood by under intense pressure, until today. The dictator’s right-hand woman has been fired.

This follows major concessions to the protestors – closing a highly profitable newspaper at the center of the scandal (so far), stepping away from a $12 billion acquisition of Britain’s biggest satellite broadcaster, and agreeing to testify to a British parliamentary panel investigating the scandal.

The next step, perhaps within a week, perhaps a month, is the resignation of Rupert Murdoch as Chairman of News Corporation. It will happen sooner if he judges that his resignation is the best way to keep his son James atop the empire, but it will happen.

The pattern repeats itself throughout history.