Today Bloomberg Businessweek‘s Greg Farrell published a remarkable piece about power shifts among News Corp.’s top executives in the early days of the phone hacking scandal. He also reconstructs a fateful dinner party chez Murdoch, which we’ve mined for etiquette tips, below, should you ever secure an invite.
Q: When should I arrive at Rupert Murdoch’s dinner party?
A: Your arrival time depends on your status within Rupert Murdoch’s circle. Are you in Rupert Murdoch’s inner-inner circle? Seeing as this is is your first Rupert Murdoch dinner party, you’re probably not in the inner-inner circle. The outer-inner circle has to wait at a bar down the street until dinner is served.
“As Murdoch discussed legal strategy with his top executives over drinks, there was a notable absence: [Lon] Jacobs. He and three lower-ranking advisers—Jeff Palker, William Lewis, and Simon Greenberg—had been told to stay away until right before the dinner began. They shared a drink at the Stafford Hotel nearby and then walked over at the appointed hour.”
Q: What is Rupert Murdoch’s house like?
“Murdoch’s multimillion-dollar, multistory townhouse sits at the end of a cul-de-sac not far from Buckingham Palace. The far side of the living room opened onto a balcony with a stunning view of Green Park. Off in another direction was the dining room with a large rectangular table.”
Q: Am I allowed on Rupert Murdoch’s balcony?
A: You may wander out on the balcony with a small group of executives, “cradling their drinks,” to “take in the fresh air.” But if you find yourself out there one-on-one with Murdoch’s new legal counsel, as Rebekah Brooks reportedly did, steel yourself for a tense exchange.
“According to one observer, [Brendan] Sullivan spoke to her sternly, reminding her not to hold anything back from him. Brooks returned from the tête-à-tête looking slightly shaken.”
Q: Where do I sit, relative to Rupert Murdoch?
A: Seating is assigned. You may assign yourself a seat yourself opposite Rupert Murdoch, but you must feign embarrassment for having done so and offer the position to your superiors.
“When it was time to sit down for the meal, everyone took assigned positions. Murdoch sat in the middle of the long table, flanked by [Joel] Klein and Sullivan. Directly across from him was Brooks, and next to her was James. At one end of the table sat Jacobs, Palker, and [Chase] Carey. At the other end sat Lewis, Greenberg, and John Villa, Sullivan’s right-hand man from Williams & Connolly. Before the group could settle into their chairs, Brooks expressed mild embarrassment at being in the prime position, even though she had arranged the seating personally. She turned to Carey and coyly insisted that he switch seats with her. Carey demurred. She made the same offer to Jacobs, who also declined.”
Q: What will Rupert Murdoch serve me?
Good luck, and let us know how it went.