UPDATE, 4:15 PM: News Corp has just released a second statement that more directly defends Rupert Murdoch against the UK revelations today (see the Channel 4 report below). Here’s the statement: “Mr. Murdoch never knew of payments made by Sun staff to police before News Corporation disclosed that to UK Authorities. Furthermore, he never said he knew of payments. It’s absolutely false to suggest otherwise.”

PREVIOUS, 3:16 PM: “I don’t know of anybody, or anything, that did anything that wasn’t being done across Fleet Street and wasn’t the culture. And we’re being picked on,” Rupert Murdoch told journalists at UK’s The Sun in March in a secretly recorded conversation about his company’s handling of bribery and hacking charges. The recording was disclosed today with a full transcript on the website Exaro as well in a report on the UK’s Channel 4. It shows Murdoch alternately angry and sympathetic as he assured staffers that he “will do everything in my power to give you total support, even if you’re convicted and get six months or whatever. I think it’s just outrageous.” Regarding “payments for news tips from cops: that’s been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn’t instigate it.” He added that “the worst thing that’s going to happen is that some of you will be charged shortly, and some of you will be released shortly. And the bulk of you will be made aware after three or four months. It’s just disgraceful that they’re [the police] doing, but we’ll see.” The News Corp chief assured one staffer that the company Management and Standards Committee hasn’t “given [police] anything for months.” Later he added that the committee “has told the police…No, no, no — get a court order. Deal with that.”Some previous disclosures — made while revelations about hacking and bribery at papers including his defunct News Of The World were fresh — were “a mistake, I think. But, in that atmosphere, at that time, we said, ‘Look, we are an open book, we will show you everything.’ And the lawyers just got rich going through millions of emails…”

He told the journalists that if any are proven guilty of lawbreaking “I will promise you continued health support — but your jobs — I’ve got to be careful what comes out — but frankly, I won’t say it, but just trust me. OK?” Asked what would happen to that promise if he was gone, Murdoch says decisions would be made either by “my son, Lachlan, or with Robert Thomson [CEO of the new News Corp publishing company]. And you don’t have any worries about either of them.”

A News Corp spokesperson says in response: “No other company has done as much to identify what went wrong, compensate the victims, and ensure the same mistakes do not happen again. The unprecedented co-operation granted by News Corp was agreed unanimously by senior management and the board, and the [Management and Standards Committee] continues to co-operate under the supervision of the courts. Rupert Murdoch has shown understandable empathy with the staff and families affected and will assume they are innocent until and unless proven guilty.”

Here’s the Channel 4 report: