07/26/2011 07:54 am ET Updated Sep 25, 2011

Rupert Murdoch A Fully Engaged Newspaper Boss: NYT

In that appearance before the House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, Mr. Murdoch sought to distance himself from the hacking scandal, explaining that because he employs "53,000 people around the world" he cannot be expected to know everything everyone is doing at The News of the World.

He may have come across at the hearing as vague, detached and unfocused -- as an old man who was at times not quite all there. Investors in the News Corporation have been pressing for years for the company to arrange a clear succession plan for Mr. Murdoch, who is 80 years old, and speculation about his future is rife now that the company has suffered a significant blow to its reputation.

But Mr. Murdoch, who every morning reads avidly from what one former editor referred to as "the best clippings service I have ever seen," has never been a disengaged boss, especially from his newspapers.