Murdoch Apologizes (Weakly) for News of the World Scandal, While Fox Airs Sympathetic Coverage
The News of the World hacking scandal has so far left a paper and a couple of bodies in its wake: the 168-year-old publication was shuttered last week, and NewsCorp execs Rebekah Wade Brooks and Les Hinton have resigned. Today, in what CBS calls "The Rupert Murdoch Contrition Tour" (heh), Murdoch ran a full-page apology ad in UK papers that threw out profuse "I'm sorries," yet distanced himself from the acts. The full text[bold ours]:
We are sorry.
The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account.
It failed when it came to itself.
We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred.
We regret not acting faster to sort things out.
I realise that simply apologising is not enough.
Our business was founded on the idea that a free and open press should be a positive force in society. We need to live up to this.
In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.
Obviously, "it" (News of the World) was not the only one failing "itself"—Hinton knew about the widespread corruption and yet still told the British House of Commons that the hacking was the work of only one reporter. And next in line for the chopping block may in fact be Rupert Murdoch's son and closest associate, James—ex Treasury Minister Paul Myners is calling upon the BSkyB shareholders to force him out as chairman of the board. Once James is gone, there's no firewall protecting Murdoch, though it appears Rupert's daughter Elisabeth may be angling for a promised spot. The Guardian reports in a must-read liveblog that she remarked at a book party that her brother James and Rebekah Brooks "fucked the company." Ouch.
Meanwhile, NewsCorp's crown jewel of its crown jewel, Fox and Friends, aired a sympathetic segment yesterday morning, in which host Steve Doocy and guest media consultant Robert Dilenschneider appeared completely bewildered that anyone could possibly be angry at the scandal."Murdoch has apologized but for some reason the public, the media, keeps going over it, again and again," said Doocy, who then completely twisted the facts in a classic Fox move and tried to paint News of the World as the victim of a hack? Come again? Mediaite:
“DILENSCHNEIDER: The issue really is why are so many people piling on at this thing? We know it’s a hacking scandal and shouldn’t we get beyond and deal with the issue of hacking? I mean, Citigroup has been hacked into, Bank of America has been hacked into, American Express has been hacked into, insurance companies have been hacked into. We’ve got a serious hacking problem in this country.
DILENSCHNEIDER: And, I would also say, by the way, Citigroup, great bank. Bank of America, great bank. Are they getting the same kind of attention for hacking that happened less than a year ago that News Corp. is getting today?
So, let me get this straight. A News Corp. outlet has admitted to hacking into citizen’s phones and has been accused of bribing politicians and police and this is the same thing as other companies being the victims of computer hackers?! How on earth did you get there?
Hey guys, on Fox, anything can happen! Which is essentially what Hustler publisher and first amendment champ Larry Flynt wrote in his editorial today in the Washington Post:
One cannot live off the liberty and benefits of a free press while ignoring the privacy of the people. People such as Murdoch and I, as heads of publishing conglomerates, have a responsibility to maintain and respect this boundary. While Murdoch may understand the significance of what we do under the umbrella of free speech, he may fail to recognize the liability attached to publication. Simply put, he publishes what he wants, apparently regardless of how he gets information and heedless of the responsibility associated with the power he wields.
Here, MediaMatters analyzes coverage of the scandal by three major networks, and finds that CNN is doing the most thorough job, airing 108 segments since July 4 compared to MSNBC's 71 and Fox's paltry 30. In other awesome news: on Tuesday, when father and son Murdoch give testimony to British Parliament, Keith Olbermann will air "several hours of live coverage and analysis" on Current. Break out the popcorn.