As number three at News Corporation, below only his father and Chase Carey, Murdoch senior's most vital lieutenant, James Murdoch was surveying a future replete with sunshine.
The BSkyB takeover would be the pinnacle of James Murdoch's career. To bet against him would have been considered certifiable.
If a week is a long time in politics, a few hours appears a long time in News Corp's present business life. The past 14 days have been characterised by the uncharacteristic – a company usually so sure of its ground stumbling in a groggy mess of obfuscation and U-turns.
Hacking was not very serious and, if it was, it was very limited. Then it was very serious and widespread. The bid for BSkyB was going ahead, whatever. Then, last week, it wasn't going ahead at all. James and Rupert Murdoch would not be appearing before the Culture and Media Select Committee on the dates requested. Then they would be. Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, was staying in post and had no reason to resign. Until she did.
(On that matter, I am told that James eventually persuaded his father early in the week that he had to put aside emotion and remove Rebekah as there was no other way to move on from such a toxic mess).
As News Corp swerved dizzily from U-turn to U-turn, one senior figure very close to the business exclaimed in exasperation: "Who on earth is in charge?" Who indeed.
Until Friday each dagger blow to the corporate body was brushed aside, like the Monty Python knight who insists it is "but a flesh wound" as he is hacked to pieces by his enemy. Executives were seen walking between various smart hotels, smiling for the cameras in open-necked shirts looking to the public as if they had just returned from a pleasant holiday in the Aegean. Murdoch senior, in a quote that will go down as one of the most ill-judged in corporate history, dismissed the scandal as a few "minor mistakes".
By Friday those self-same "minor-mistakes" had led to the resignations of both Mrs Brooks and Les Hinton, the chief executive of Dow Jones. Both were remarkably close to Murdoch senior and their departure can only embolden those who say it is time for a new generation to take over at the top of News Corp and its divisions.
Murdoch senior himself appeared to be opening the door to such a possibility when he said, in a significant memo to staff on Friday night: "Let me emphasise one point – News Corporation is not Rupert Murdoch. It is the collective creativity and effort of many thousands of people around the world."
In two weeks' time, the BSkyB board will meet for the first time since the phone hacking scandal broke into the mainstream with the revelation that the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile phone had been accessed. The meeting, which might well be something of a surreal occasion, will be chaired by James Murdoch, the television company's chairman, who has for the past year excused himself from much of BSkyB's business because of the News Corp offer.
As we reveal today, either before or after the meeting, the non-executive directors will gather in private session and without James Murdoch to discuss one item of business. What is the shareholder view of James Murdoch remaining as chairman of the company?
The non-executives, led by Nick Ferguson and in a majority on the board, will have to reflect – and I would suggest make some form of public statement – on how governance is going to operate at BSkyB. With the News Corp deal over but few believing it is off the table completely, how possible will it be for James Murdoch to still be chairman of BSkyB if News Corp comes knocking once again?
In very different circumstances, the issue of James Murdoch's chairmanship was raised at board level when News Corp first proposed a bid offer last year. I am told that James Murdoch's response was sharp and to the point: "Don't even go there."
He is in a much weaker position this time and he knows it. Some even argue that it would be better for James Murdoch himself if he were to relinquish his role as chairman and, once his move to New York is complete, concentrate on other, non-UK parts of the News Corp empire. A new independent chairman with no connection to News International could simply be a better way forward.
Investors have made it clear that they do not want to see any precipitate action and that will play in James Murdoch's favour. There is no revolt.
Rupert and James Murdoch's appearance before the parliamentary select committee on Tuesday will be great theatre but for James it will be more important than that. "A landmark moment", was how one senior figure described it. Perform well and it will be a boost. Mess up and that meeting of non-executive directors on July 28 will be even trickier.
Like long-term investors in European sovereign debt or the banking sector, consistency and predictability are the watch words. Neither has been in much evidence over the past two weeks. For investors, some quiet water would be appreciated, a day or two without some shocking new development.
It has to be recognised that James Murdoch was a successful and rightly lauded chief executive of BSkyB, pushing large scale investment which is now paying rich cash dividends. But investors have to make a judgement on how much contagion could leak from News Corporation and News International into the BSkyB corpus. James Murdoch, whatever he may argue, is a conduit for that contagion.
News Corp's pay-TV strategy has been badly shredded by the events of the past few days. Before, the trajectory was clear – become the single owner of BSkyB, link it more closely together with the Sky networks in Germany and Italy, bring more seamless co-operation with the UK newspaper division and look for other opportunities for transforming the content offer, such as a deal to buy Formula 1. As we reveal today, such a possibility is as far away as ever.
News Corp will be back. It still wants all of BSkyB. It still wants Formula 1. James Murdoch is a man who wants to take opportunities when they become available. Shareholders will have to decide whether he is still the best man to chair BSkyB or whether a different head would make the future easier for that successful company.
by Kamal Ahmed