At a Parliament hearing into phone hacking by News Corp. journalists, James Murdoch, the head of European operations, performed the dual role of protector of his 80-year-old father Rupert Murdoch and executive in charge of the inner workings of News of the World, the tabloid at the center of the allegations.
It was, at times, an impressive performance. "I thought James quite articulate," former New York Times executive editor Howell Raines told ABCNews.com after watching Tuesday's hearing. "He was impressive to me."
Would it be enough to save his job?
Raines didn't think so. "They're going to have to throw someone high up under the bus. There's just too much there," he said.
Raines resigned from the New York Times in 2003 amid the newspaper's own scandal after a reporter, Jayson Blair, had committed plagiarism and fabricated stories.
In recent days, the elder Murdoch had publicly defended his son, who's been under fire for decisions he made including approving a payment of 700,000 pounds ($1.1 million) to hacking victim and Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor. But Tuesday, James Murdoch seemed to be defending his father.
"It seemed like James was stepping forward to shield Rupert's reputation, like he saying, 'He's an old man. Beat on me, if you have to beat on someone,'" Raines said.
At times Rupert appeared to be somewhat befuddled by the committee members questions. When James tried to answer questions directed at his father from committee member Tom Watson about the specific goings-on at News of the World, Watson interrupted him. "It is revealing in himself what he doesn't know and what executives chose not to tell him," Watson said.
"Clearly he's not gaga," Raines said about Rupert Murdoch. "But I'm pretty convinced he's been much detached from the operations of the larger company."
Indeed, Murdoch said as much when asked about how hands-on he was at News of the World. "Perhaps I lost sight," he said, adding that the now defunct tabloid accounts for "less than 1percent of our company."
"I may have been lax for not asking more," the senior Murdoch said.
At the same time, he portrayed himself as very much involved in the company, saying he works 10 to 12 hour days and "can't tell you the multitude of issues that I have to handle every day."
When asked if he would resign, Rupert said no, adding that he was "the best person to clean this up."
During the hearing, both father and son seemed to stick closely to their script, which involved expressing personal regret while deflecting questions about criminal wrongdoing, citing the ongoing police investigation.
Rupert Murdoch, arguably the most powerful media mogul ever, said in his first words to the committee, "This is the most humble day of my life."
"Their game plan was to be humble and contrite but without opening any doors into the inner workings of the company and what they knew," Raines added.
Stockholders seemed pleased with what Raines called the Murdochs' "hunkered-down" approach, as News Corp shares were up more than 5 percent.
In an aside, Rupert Murdoch recounted the pride he felt in his father, who started the family business by purchasing a newspaper in Australia, and said he hoped one day that his children, including James, would take over the business.
James Murdoch had been considered his 80-year-old father's likely successor. It was the son who announced the News of the World's closing two weeks ago, saying the paper's good deeds "have been sullied by behavior that was wrong; indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company."