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Rebekah Brooks Testifies

Aired July 19, 2011 - 14:00   ET


PHILIP DAVIES, BRITISH CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT CMTE: You said everyone at "News of the World" was working hard to get them a be job and make sure that they didn't lose it, which is fairly admirable. Why is that not the same for Tom Crone? You said he left employment was because his job sort of no longer existed at "News of the World." So, if you're basically trying to find a job for everybody at "News of the World," why is poor old Tom Crone -- why did you not find a job for him?

REBEKAH BROOKS, FORMER NEWS INTERNATIONAL CEO: There are some people that didn't want a job. In the case of Tom Crone, Tom's title was News International legal manager. He wasn't, as Mr. Sheridan pointed out, it wasn't just journalists. It was drivers, secretaries, there are many people to jobs in "News of the World."

In the case of Tom, as I explained, that he predominantly for the last few years had worked as the legal manager for "The News of the World" and, in fact, there's legal teams on all the other newspapers. So that was the current situation for Tom.

DAVIES: Can I just ask you about Neville Thurlbeck? Did you know that when you were editor of "News of the World," did you know that he was somebody who was an informant to the police?


DAVIES: You didn't know --


DAVIES: -- that he was a police informant?

BROOKS: Is that true?

DAVIES: Well, it's in "The Evening Standard." They quoted -- they quoted court reports dated back to 2000 when he said himself after a case the police were very impressed about the type of intelligence I was coming up with that was revealed in court and the judge said it was a substantial volume of information that was extremely useful to the police.

It says also that sources close to Thurlbeck said that, and this is a quote, "People right at the top of News International were aware of his role to the police."

BROOKS: I was not aware Neville Thurlbeck was a police informant.

DAVIES: That comes as a complete shock to you?

BROOKS: You're telling me now. I'm not even sure what it means particularly. I mean, if you are asking me about the -- do members of the press and members of the police force have a symbiotic relationship of exchanging information for public interest, then they do. I'm not quite sure what the word police informant means.

DAVIES: Well, the allegation is that he passed a substantial volume of information that was extremely useful to Scotland Yard. And in return, Mr. Thurlbeck received dozens of items of confidential information from the police national computer, that's the allegation.

BROOKS: I don't know about that. But most journalists who work as either a crime editor or, you know, a crime correspondent have a working relationship with their particular police force.

DAVIES: When our report was published in early 2010 was when you were chief executive of News International and there were certain things where obviously we reported that we've found that the evidence from the people from News International was satisfactorily, the collective amnesia that we refer to in our reports, that we felt it was inconceivable that Clive Goodman was a rogue reporter, as has been passed on to us that we referred to the Neville e-mail in there, all of that kind of stuff.

When you were chief executor of News International, at the time that report was published, did you read the report that we published?

BROOKS: Yes, I did. I'm not saying I read every single word, but I read a large majority of it. I particularly read the criticisms that were addressed to the company. And I can only hope that from the evidence you've heard from us today that we have really stepped up our investigation and, you know, that Rupert and James Murdoch have been here today being very open and very honest with you as a committee. I was very willing to come despite the fact that there are some legal issues around what I say.

I hope that you think that when we saw the civil disclosure in December 2010, we acted swiftly and promptly to deal with it, and the police investigation would not be open. There would be not a new criminal inquiry if it hadn't been to the information that News International handed over. And I'm not saying that we haven't made mistakes, but we -- but the Metropolitan Police have repeatedly said, as you heard last week, the committee heard last week, they repeatedly said there was no need for further criminal investigation.

So I think that everyone involved in 2007 would say now that the mistakes were made, but I hope that you feel we have responded appropriately and responsibly since we saw the information in 2010.

DAVIES: So when you read the report, did you think, glory me, this isn't -- you know, there are some things here that don't stack up? We might not have any evidence, I may not know anything, these people (INAUDIBLE) -- there's clearly something that's not quite right here.

Did that sort of prompt any activity on your part as chief executive of News International to say, well, you know, let's go back over this because there's something not right here?

BROOKS: No, everyone at News International has great respect for Parliament and for this committee. And of course to be criticized by your report was something that we responded to. We looked at the report, but it was only when we had the information in December 2010 that we did something.

But, you know, I think you heard today from Rupert Murdoch who said that this was, you know, the most humble day. We come before this committee to try and explain openly and honestly what happened and, of course, we were very happy with the criticisms that this committee found. You know, we aspire daily to have a great company and your criticisms were felt.

DAVIES: Could you tell us how often you either spoke to or met the various prime ministers since you've been the editor of "News of the World," the chief executive of News International? How often would you speak to or meet Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron respectively?

BROOKS: Gosh, well, on the prime minister, David Cameron, you know, we've met. Well, I read the other day that we've met 26 times. I don't know if that is absolutely correct. I can do my best to come back to you on an exact number on that. I'm sure it is correct if that's what the prime minister's office says.

The fact is I've never been to Downing Street while David Cameron has been prime minister. And yet under Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Prime Minister Tony Blair, I did regularly go to Downing Street.

DAVIES: How regular is regularly?

BROOKS: Well, on Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in the time that he was in Downing Street and while -- and also while he was chancellor, I would have gone maybe six times a year.

DAVIES: And with Tony Blair, similar?

BROOKS: Probably similar. Maybe in the last few years a little more, but -- I mean, you want the exact numbers I can do my best to get that. But strangely, it was under later prime ministers that I was a regular visitor to Downing Street and not the current.

DAVIES: Do you think -- do you think that there was a change of emphasis with you are editor of "The Sun" or chief executive of News International in that, it always struck me when I was (INAUDIBLE) that "The Sun" and "The News of the World", particularly "The Sun," always struck me as being sort of around the antiestablishment kind of publication. It always seemed to me as the sort of paper that was on the side of the little person fighting the establishment.

Would you say that when you became editor and obviously your relationship with those prime ministers that there was actually News International became part of the establishment as opposed to being antiestablishment?

BROOKS: Well, considering the amount of complaints I used to get from both prime ministers and about the coverage of "The Sun," I would think if they were here now, they would say that that is not the case. Throughout my editorship at "The Sun," as you know, one of the main campaigns that we have had is for help for heroes. I think "The Sun" is absolutely the paper for the military and that caused us to have very, very uncomfortable conversations particularly with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

And one of the issues that still is apparent today as it was back then is the lack of awareness of other aspects of the media and of parliament to acknowledge that currently, we have soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and war. And people seem to forget that. So I would not say that any prime minister would think "The Sun" is not fighting for the right people. In fact, "The Sun" continues to fight for the right people.

DAVIES: How often will any of those prime ministers ask you as either editor or chief executive, how often would they ever ask you not to publish a story? Would they sort of -- as for "News of the World," they sort of ask you to hide a story? Would that happen?

BROOKS: No. I can't -- I can't remember an occasion where a prime minister asked us to not run a story.

DAVIES: That's not a politicians generally, is that something that would happen?

BROOKS: No. I would say that I can remember many occasions when a cabinet minister or politician or a prime minister was very unhappy at the stories we were running. Not that they pled directly for it not to run.

DAVIES: And if they had an interest (INAUDIBLE).

BROOKS: As long as the story was true and accurate or was part of our campaign, are then there's no reason for a prime minister -- I mean, that's exactly why we have a free press.

DAVIES: The final question -- this is my final question. There's a feeling that in some way that you had a close relationship with the prime minister, the current prime minister. I think the allegation goes, it seems to me that it's no different than your relationship with the previous prime minister. But just for the benefit of what people may perceive, that you had a close relationship with the prime minister. That was helpful to him and certainly News International was helpful to him politically.

But in return what News Corporation was hoping for, whether that would in some way grease the wheels sort of to the takeover of BSkyB. Was that, any of that -- was any of that sort of part of why this stresses you if News Corporation, were you encouraged to get closer to the prime ministers with that in mind?

BROOKS: No, not at all. You know, I've read many, many allegations about my current relationship with the Prime Minister David Cameron, including that, you know, my extensive horse riding with him every weekend up in Oxfordshire. I have never been horse riding with the prime minister. I don't know where that story came from.

I was asked three days ago to disclose the race horse with the prime minister which I do not -- and I was asked a week ago to explain why I owned some land with the prime minister, which I do not.

So, I'm afraid in this current climate, many of the allegations that are putting forward that I'm trying to answer honestly, but there is a lot out there that just isn't true -- particularly around this subject to my relationship with David Cameron. The truth is that he is -- that he is a neighbor and a friend, but I deem the relationship to be wholly appropriate, and at no time have I ever had any conversation with the prime minister that you in the room would disapprove of.

DAVIES: Thank you.

ADRIAN SANDERS, BRITISH CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORTS CMTE.: A newspaper report the other day that you advised David Cameron on whom to appoint as a press spokesman and suggested it should be Andy Coulson?

BROOKS: Yes, I also read that.

SANDERS: What was your reaction to that story?

BROOKS: So I think it's a matter of public knowledge that it was George Osborne, the chancellor's idea, that when Andy Coulson left "News of the World" that they should start discussions with him on whether he would be the appropriate person going to go to H.Q.

The first time I ever heard of him being approached was from Andy Coulson and not the prime minister.

SANDERS: And so, you had no conversation with David Cameron?

BROOKS: The piece that you -- no. The answer is that -- the allegation which I have read is that I told the prime minister to hire Andy Coulson and that is not true, never was true, and the idea came from George Osborne.

SANDERS: So, you had no conversation with David Cameron about Andy Coulson being suitable for that position?


SANDERS: None whatsoever?

BROOKS: No. Obviously, you were talking before his appointment?



SANDERS: You presumably would, in a social context, swap gossip with David Cameron, and that gossip could actually be having been obtained by illegal means. Are you satisfied that your dealings with David Cameron before and after becoming prime minister that the sort of gossip you might share was aboveboard?

BROOKS: Well, I hope my earlier assurance that in any social encounters I've had with the prime minister, that any conversations were wholly appropriate both as my position as editor of "The Sun" or chief executive and his position as prime minister.

SANDERS: And did you approve the subsidizing of Andy Coulson's salary after he left "News of the World"?

BROOKS: Again, that's not true. The -- so I didn't approve it.

SANDERS: So, the "New Statesman" report, like "The Daily Mail" report is inaccurate, that his salary is not being subsidized by News International?

BROOKS: That is correct. They are incorrect. I'm sorry.

PAUL FARRELLY, BRITISH CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT CMTE.: I have one final, very small question. Would you agree, Ms. Brooks that part of the public concern here is about the closeness of the police and now politicians to "News of the World" and News International?

BROOKS: I think the public's concern overwhelming is on the interception of voice mails is the idea anybody could intercept the voice mails of victims of crime, and I think that's their overwhelming concern.

FARRELLY: But there has been a lot of concern voiced over the closeness of police and politicians and "News of the World" and News International. Would you agree as a matter of fact?

BROOKS: I've seen that the "News of the World" has been singled out for that closeness. And I think if you are going to address it, and you know this more than anyone on the committee because of your career as a journalist, that it is wholly unfair in the discussing of closeness of police and politicians with the media to single out the "The News of the World."

FARRELLY: OK. But it is a fact, this has been a criticism -- and yet you on your watch as chief executive of News International managed a triple whammy because you employ the former director of public prosecutions to advise you on your approach to evidence and handing over to the police and while he was the DVP, along with his successor, Ken McDonald, who is not above criticism for frankly rubber stamping the police -- the complacent police approach, to the inquiry. Do you think that was an error of judgment actually given the circumstances?

BROOKS: I think -- just to clarify the Ken McDonald issue, which I think is important, is that Ken McDonald was hired by News Corporation and he has been rigorous in his separation of payments to police and the illegal interception of voicemail. He has not commented in any shape or form on the legal interception of voicemail. And if that conversation has arisen, he has withdrawn himself from the room and the conversation.

So I hear what you say, but --

FARRELLY: But you can forgive people for shaking their heads, can't you?

BROOKS: Well, I can forgive people for shaking their heads if they believe the question you put to me was true. But I think if people understand he was hired by News Corporation and not News International, he's reporting directly into the board and he's only discussing payments to police officers, then I don't think people would shake their heads. I mean, he has been rigorous in not involving himself into the illegal interception of e-mails.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe we should call unless you have anything else you'd like to add?

BROOKS: Just one thing really. That I know you've heard unreserved apologies from Rupert and James Murdoch. I just want to reiterate my own.

The most important thing that I feel, going forward to the investigation, is to discover the allegations, the truth behind the allegations particularly for Milly Dowler's family but for the other allegations of victims of crime.

Again, I would like to make just one request to the committee, that when I am free from some of the legal constraints that I am today, that you will invite me back so I can answer in a more fulsome way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the committee will be very happy to accept that offer. In the meantime, can I thank you for your willingness to come and for the way in which you've answered our questions?

BROOKS: Thank you.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: She may have been arrested. She may be on bail, but it's still just over two hours of answering questions for Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International and forthright answers we will discuss with our panel.

Geoffrey Robertson, the leading human rights attorney. And now, Mrs. Brooks was in a bit of a difficult position because she does actually have to be aware that she is arrested and, of course, has to be careful what she says.

Did she do the trick for you?

GEOFFREY ROBERTSON, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: Well, she came with her lawyer and she made the point that she is under arrest. But, again, she repeated the mantra that we heard from Rupert and James Murdoch. I guess with Rebekah Brooks, we might call them the whopping three that they heard no evil, saw no evil -- and this is, quite frankly, difficult to believe because she was in the hot seat. She was running "The News of the World" at the time.

And she no doubt, again, that the ball was rather dropped because this sensation that's come out of today is the fact that Glenn Mulcaire, the man who did all the hacking, the demon hacker, is still being paid or his legal expenses have been paid by News Limited and he may still be paid. No one has actually seemed to have looked at his contract recently.

This is the man for whose work Rupert and James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks have grovelingly apologized and yet they may still be paying him. How can their apologies be sincere? Mulcaire knows where all the bodies are buried. He knows to whom he reported and who he says put pressure on him.

So let's, for heaven's sakes, have the FBI or some competent police force because our own police force can't even keep shaving cream out of parliamentary committees to interview him about who, in fact, did commission and cover up his work.

QUEST: All right, Geoff. Well, that's a fair point.

Michael Cockerell, is this investigation -- was today by the select committee -- I suppose the answer is who came off best, the Murdochs and Brooks or the select committee?

MICHAEL COCKERELL, POLITICAL DOCUMENTARIAN: I think it was a no score draw in a way. Unfortunately, because of the constraints, I think Rebekah Brooks you could see how she had risen from the typing (ph) to become chief executive in terms of her smoothness of manner and her ability to deflect questions.

I think the committees all tried hard. But committees -- select committees are very difficult because you can't continue the line of questioning because each of the MPs goes off on a different line and they were quite good at either deflecting the question or saying they didn't know at the time. It seems to me there was this huge disconnect between what a newsroom is like, especially a newsroom of a tabloid newspaper and the methods they use compared to this -- until the shaving cream in the face, this august select committee.

QUEST: Allyson Stewart-Allen, the marketing and corporate diplomacy expert -- Allyson, if you had to weigh up on one hand and on the other, perhaps what Rebekah Brooks said at the end in relation to one committee member that the public would be shaking their head after they've heard a lot of what was said.

ALLYSON STEWART-ALLEN, MARKETING AND CORPORATE DIPLOMACY EXPERT: Oh, absolutely. I think one of the things that's clear about all three people today in these hearings is it sounds like you have executives running a large global corporation that aren't on top of the facts. They're not on top of the culture. They're not on top of their brief.

And when you have people allowed or rampant phone hacking and police, alleged police bribery, that's been allowed to persist over a number of years, you have something wrong.

And clearly admitting that, detailing what you're going to do to do a root and branch review of practices, putting processes and structures in place so it can't happen again, that's the reassurance that viewers of CNN and readers of all these newspapers want to know.


ROBERTSON: -- a great deal about press and freedoms. I mean, Rebekah Brooks and Rupert Murdoch kept saying what a wonderfully diverse press we've got, that we've got to keep press freedom.

What does press freedom to do with breaking the law? What does press freedom to do with bribing policemen for information and with hacking phones illegally?

The point is -- and the select committee who were very bad at cross-examination and very boring at many times, they never got to the point of saying what story? What great public interest story did you ever get from invading privacy? This is the $64 question that I'm afraid the Murdochs and Ms. Brooks never suggested an ounce or two.

Press freedom is great.

QUEST: Geoffrey, I'm going to have to interrupt you. Forgive me, Geoffrey, I have to interrupt you. The select committee or otherwise, I know you'll forgive me. We do need to take a momentary break.

Geoffrey, Allyson and Michael will be with us after the break. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" will be on the other side of this short intermission.

CNN's coverage of the evidence before the commons select committee. If you're watching, we thank you for your company. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next. It's just about half past the hour.


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: One of the most powerful men in modern media gets grilled by the British parliament. Rupert Murdoch, head of News Corp, faced an unflinching interrogation in London today, even watching it here. His son James Murdoch, and the former editor in chief of "News of the World," Rebekah Brooks, were also called out.

And after hours of testimony, they all said they had no idea that their reporters had allegedly been hacking phones, bribing police and prying into the private records of everyone from the former prime minister to the families of fallen soldiers.

But it begs the question, when you're the boss, when do you have to take responsibility for other people's actions?

I'm joined now by Richard Levick, an expert in corporate culture and the president and CEO of Levick Strategic Communications. I'm also joined by Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst. And Howard Kurtz, host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and D.C. bureau chief for "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast."

First, Richard, to you, you literally wrote the book on leadership in a time of crisis. Both Rupert Murdoch and his son James saying today they had no idea this was happening on their watch. When you're the boss, is that even possible?

RICHARD S. LEVICK, ESQ., CEO, LEVICK STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: You know, it's possible but it's not leadership. Rupert Murdoch missed an extraordinary opportunity today to show leadership. While his son James was doing a good job in talking about the facts and showing himself to be an executive, Rupert Murdoch was periodically stumbling, didn't answer questions particularly well. And when asked the question do you take responsibility, he flat out answered, no. He should have taken the opportunity to say, I do not take legal responsibility but I am the leader and then to start talking about leadership.

KAYE: And Jeffrey, I want to know from you, is ignorance enough, do you think, to get you off the hook, or to get him off the hook? Or might he see -- might the Murdochs see some jail time here? Is that possible?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It certainly seems unlikely based on the facts that have come out so far. The MPs were skeptical, the members of Parliament were skeptical, about the Murdochs' claim that they had no idea that all this hacking was going on, but they didn't have specific evidence to refute those claims with. So, I have to say, it was a pretty inept questioning by the members of Parliament and the Murdochs made the most of it. James Murdoch filibustered a lot. He used a lot of business jargon, talked about being proactive. But the core message here from both Murdochs was we had no idea what was going on under our noses, and there was no proof to the contrary.

KAYE: And Howie, it does seem when you look at what happened there today with this shaving cream pie that was directed at Rupert Murdoch, you have to wonder about the anger and how much rage there is on behalf of so many over what has allegedly happened here. I mean, do you think that this process is about getting the facts, or do you think that this could also be very much about public shaming?

HOWARD KURTZ, CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Well, the shaving cream was probably Rupert Murdoch's best moment because it was a very halting and unconvincing performance.

But let's make no mistake. This is a scandal because it reaches to Parliament, because it reaches to police as well as to the fabric of journalism that has rocked Britain and has captured the attention of much of the world. So while, you know, Rupert Murdoch and to some lesser extent, his son James, didn't give much up here in terms of knowing about seemingly anything going on in their corporation, they are also on trial in the court of public opinion. And there, I think, Rupert Murdoch not only said that he wasn't responsible. He defended Rebekah Brooks. He defended Les Hinton, the former Dow Jones CEO, who also resigned last Friday. And he said he had been betrayed by unnamed other employees. It was not overall a very impressive performance.

KAYE: Richard, we know this scandal has to be costing News Corp millions. How much of a liability is it to keep Rupert Murdoch where he is right now?

LEVICK: I don't know if the liability yet is to Rupert Murdoch, but it certainly is his leadership. I think he has to stay right and use others as a human shield for as long as he can. The critical question is, you know, he's been a liability in many ways if you look at the value of property for so many years.

But when is News Corporation going to get out in front of the story? When are they going to do the top to bottom investigation not just of their British publications, and they're only doing that right now, but in fact, going worldwide? And until they do that, they will always be behind the story and as long as he's at the helm and performing the way he did today, he will increasingly be a liability.

KAYE: Jeffrey -- what are your thoughts, Jeffrey, about strategy here? I mean, Rupert Murdoch is 81 years old but he did appear rather frail today . His son certainly as we said, taking a lot of the questions for him and helping him through this. Do you think that was part of the plan?

TOOBIN: Well, I don't think Rupert Murdoch was capable of another plan. I mean, he is 81 and he is not a young 81.

But, remember, this is his candy store. Nominally, News Corp. is a publicly traded company but the Murdoch family through trusts and what not controls about 40 percent of the stock. So, they don't really answer to anybody. The board of directors is a docile group that basically answers to Murdoch's call. And my sense is they did just enough to stop a rebellion from the board of directors and, you know, there really is not much that can be done. I mean, he owns a controlling interest in this company, and when you own a controlling interest, there's not much people can do to you.

KAYE: Interesting testimony and interesting discussion as well. Thank you, Jeffrey Toobin, Howard Kurtz and Richard Levick. Appreciate it.

Up next, a major hacking investigation involving the FBI unfolding in the U.S. right now. We have the very latest details about some new arrests, right after the break.


KAYE: Now to a major hacking investigation under way right here in the U.S. We're just getting word that more than a dozen people have been arrested for their possible link to the notorious hacking group Anonymous.

CNN's Brian Todd is digging into this. And he joins us now. Brian, tell us the very latest.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Randi, a law enforcement federal official says at least 14 suspects have been arrested so far in an ongoing operation aimed at taking down the now notorious hacking group called Anonymous. This follows a day where several arrest warrants were issued across the country. Many of them in the New York City area, in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Long Island. The arrests, we're told, though, occurred in Florida, California, New Jersey. More arrests are expected. But at least 14 now arrested so far in this operation targeting this hacking group called Anonymous.

Now Anonymous notorious over the past year for several hacking incidents. They've been linked to the hacking of Web sites affiliated with the - let's see - the Motion Picture Association of America, the Church of Scientology. They kind of vaulted to fame when they were associated with the disruption of Web sites of Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, and that was in retaliation for those sites ending their affiliation with WikiLeaks. The Anonymous hackers were said to have tried secret retaliation for ending their affiliation with WikiLeaks, so they disrupted their Web sites back in December. Anonymous also linked to the hacking of the CIA's Web site, Sony, Fox, so they've been very active over the past year.

This is a major operation aimed at taking them down. I just spoke with a former Justice department prosecutor who handled the cyber crime division. He was telling me how difficult these investigations are and how significant this is. It takes a long time to get some of these people and once they get them, they can maybe turn some other evidence against others. That commonly happens in these investigations, so this is a major development. At least 14 suspects now associated with Anonymous have been arrested.

KAYE: All right, Brian Todd, thank you for the update.

U.S. guns found at crime scenes in Mexico. Congress is demanding answers from the FBI and the DEA. We'll tell you more, right after this.


KAYE: Time right now, forty-two minutes past the hour. And it's time to get you caught up on the headlines and other news you may have missed.

President Obama says he's ready to meet with congressional leaders again on the debt ceiling. He spoke at the beginning of the regular White House briefing last hour. The president also says he just received a new proposal from the Senate's bipartisan Gang of Six, calling for $3.7 trillion in savings over the next 10 years.

In London, we knew there would be drama at the parliamentary grilling of Rupert Murdoch and son, James, but no one expected a shaving cream pie. The intruder was almost intercepted by the elder Murdoch's wife, Wendy, after which his hearing was only briefly suspended. Murdoch and son repeatedly apologized for the phone hacking scandal that's rocked their media empire. But Rupert Murdoch in particular denied he's to blame and vows not to step down.

A historic day in space. For the last time in the foreseeable future, a U.S. space shuttle undocked from the international space station. The space shuttle Atlantis separated from the space station early this morning about 250 miles above earth. It will return home Thursday, wrapping up NASA's final space shuttle mission.

Congressional investigators have given the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration just one week to produce documents to aid their investigation of a controversial gun purchasing operation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The ATF program allowed thousands of heavy-duty assault-type weapons to be illegally purchased. Many of the weapons were recovered at crime scenes in Mexico.

According to a tweet from the mayor of Philadelphia, the city will not start fining pedestrians $120 for texting while walking. This is contrary to reports that have flooded the Internet today. Officials said the city's Give Respect, Get Respect campaign targeting cyclists, motorists and pedestrians will include educational brochures but no fines for pedestrians.

Texas Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan has been released from a Houston hospital and will rest at home for a few days before returning to work. Ryan was hospitalized Sunday after experiencing discomfort while at home. Tests he underwent yesterday showed no new problems related to a heart condition for which he was already being treated.

The latest attempt to break Israel's naval blockade is over. This time, it ended quietly. We'll have a live report from Jerusalem coming up in "Globe Trekking."


KAYE: Our "Globe Trekking" segment takes us to the Middle East. The latest attempt to end the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza has failed. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A small French flagged protest boat is escorted into the Israeli port of Ashdad, the end of its voyage vastly different from the original plan to challenge Israel's naval blockade of Gaza with ten international protest vessels.

In the end, just this one, the Dignitay, even got close and not very close before the Israeli navy intervened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the Israeli Navy. What is your port of origin? HOLMES: The boat boarded without incident, 16 passengers and crew transferred to Israeli naval vessels. The end of the latest attempt by activists to break the Gaza blockade and the first since a bloody end to a similar one a year ago.

It ended with Israeli forces dramatically boarding several of the protest boats. On one, the Turkish flag (INAUDIBLE), both troops and protesters claimed they were attacked first. In the end, nine activists were dead and nearly 50 hurt in a confrontation that created a major diplomatic headache for Israel that included damaged relations with Turkey.

This time, a preemptive strike of sorts by Israel asking regional governments to help out. Protest boats in Greece ended up marooned dockside. Held up, protesters say, by trumped-up bureaucratic issues, even sabotaged. Claims dismissed by Greek authorities who say they were going by the book. Protesters saying the holdups were the result of pressure from Israel.

YIGAL PALMOR, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: The real situation in Gaza is well understood by all Mediterranean governments, by other governments as well but by all the relevant governments on the eastern Mediterranean. And this is why no one wanted to be dragged into this irresponsible adventure by a handful of lunatics.

HOLMES: In the end, it was the little flotilla that couldn't, left wallowing instead of heading for Gaza, all except The Dignitay, which activists say got out of port by claiming they were heading for Egypt not Gaza.

Organizers say they may have failed to launch the whole flotilla, but succeeded in a game highlighting the plight of Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians, most of whom the United Nations says live below the poverty line and are economically at Israel's mercy.

(on camera): Israel disputes that, saying it allows humanitarian aid into the territory and the blockade is to prevent weapons reaching militants inside Gaza. According to those behind this below flotilla, there will be another and another for as long as the blockade continues.

Michael Holmes, CNN, Jerusalem.


KAYE: Up next, the woman everyone is talking about today. Rupert Murdoch's wife. We know she went after her husband's attacker today. But we're going to tell you much more about her.


KAYE: It is the moment of the day everyone is talking about. Have you seen it yet? After being grilled by British lawmakers for more than two-and-a-half hours, Rupert Murdoch was attacked quite literally at today's phone hacking hearing. Check this out. It all started when a man at the hearing lunged at Murdoch with a shaving cream pie. We're told he said, "You're a greedy billionaire" as he went after the head of News Corp.

Now can you see the woman there in the pink? She doesn't waste any time or effort going after that attacker. So, who is that woman running to Rupert Murdoch's rescue? Well, that is his wife, Wendy. And it got us wondering exactly who is this woman who jumped to protect her man?

Well, here is what we know. She got married to Rupert Murdoch June 25, 1999. The couple has two young children together. She's Murdoch's third wife and just a few years older than his son, James, who is 38, and was sitting beside his father at today's hearing.

"The Wall Street Journal," part of Murdoch's media empire, of course, did a profile on Wendy back in 2000. In it, we learned she grew up in China, came to the U.S. in 1988 to study and lived with a California couple she met in China. The husband of that couple then left his wife and married Wendy. A few years later, a couple of years after that they, too, got divorced and Wendy went on to receive an MBA from Yale University in 1996. Shortly after that, she landed an internship at Star TV in Hong Kong. Star TV, of course, also under the Murdoch media umbrella.

That internship then turned into a full-time job and according to "The Wall Street Journal," by 1998, all the buzz at Star TV was about the romance between Wendy and Rupert Murdoch. A year later, Murdoch divorced his wife of 31 years and married Wendy just a few weeks later.

Coming up, snake eyes. One Las Vegas tycoon is taking shots at President Obama. Your CNN political update is next.


KAYE: Time now for a CNN political update. And we're taking a look at the public's appetite for a deal on the debt ceiling. CNN political producer Shannon Travis joining me now from Washington. Shannon, what are people saying?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Well, you talk about that -- as we look at the appetite as we mentioned, Randi, Democrats don't want the cuts to be too deep to some of their pet causes. Republicans say that they don't want tax cuts -- I'm sorry, tax hikes. And both sides are citing public opinion.

But there's a new poll that seems to be the third to confirm pretty much essentially the same thing, that Americans do have an appetite for spending cuts and tax increases in any debt ceiling deal. Look at some of these numbers. Should the debt ceiling - should there be a debt ceiling deal? Sixty-six percent want spending cuts and tax increases. Twenty-eight percent say only spending cuts. And three percent say only tax increases.

How does this break down in terms of Republicans and Democrats and independents? Take a look at this poll, Randi. Debt ceiling should include both spending cuts and tax increases. Democrats, 71 percent. Independents, 68 percent. Republicans, 55 percent. Even Tea Party members, 53 percent. And right now, it's a split between whether a deal - whether the debt ceiling limit should be raised. Forty-six, forty nine percent, but that's up 22 points. Randi?

KAYE: Interesting numbers. I have to ask you also, what's this about the Las Vegas billionaire talking poll it particulars?

TRAVIS: Yes, really, really quickly, billionaire Steve Wynn, you've seen his resorts all over Las Vegas. He's blasting President Obama. I'm going to read this quote from a call, an earnings call yesterday. Quote, "I'm saying it bluntly that this administration is the greatest wet blanket to business and progress and job creation in my lifetime". Those are from Steve Wynn.

We know there are a lot of businesses who have been on a hiring streak, Randi, but this is what Steve Wynn, billionaire real estate mogul in Las Vegas thinks about the Obama administration.

KAYE: Strong words. All right Shannon Travis, thank you very much. Nice to see you.

CNN NEWSROOM continues right now with Brooke Baldwin. Hi, Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I like your choice of wardrobe, Randi Kaye.


BALDWIN: Great minds think alike, you know.


BALDWIN: Black jacket -

KAYE: They kind of do! There you go.

BALDWIN: Thanks, Randi.