Point: PR-Wise, Rupert Murdoch Didn’t Do Himself Any Good In His Appearance Before a Parliamentary Committee Last Week

Jul 25, 2011

[Editor's Note: This commentary first appeared on Jeff Grimshaw's The TV News, which can be found at www.thetvnews.tv, and we appreciate Jeff letting us reprint it.]

As the News Corp. scandal continues to snowball, the company has done a couple of things right.

Running full-page apologies in all the British newspapers was one.

Having Rupert Murdoch meet personally with the family of the murdered girl whose cell phone was hacked was another.

Announcing creation of a Management and Standards Committee was a third. But while the Committee will be independently chaired, two News Corp. Board members will have direct governance and oversight, so that seemingly calls into question how independent the Committee really will be.

Most disappointing from a PR perspective, however, has been Rupert Murdoch’s performance before a committee of the British Parliament. After claiming it was "the most humble day of his career,” he acted anything but humble.

In answering questions, he pleaded ignorance, assigned blame and took no responsibility. He said The News of the World was too small a part of his empire for him to know what was going on there, and, when asked, point blank, “Mr. Murdoch, do you accept that, ultimately, you are responsible for this whole fiasco?,” his answer, astonishingly, was a simple, “No!”

He then went on to blame "the people I trusted to run it, and then maybe the people they trusted."

Here was his chance, served up on a platter, to show that he truly was humbled and sorry, but, instead, he stonewalled. It was a golden opportunity to demonstrate real courage and leadership, to say that even though perhaps he is not legally responsible for what has happened, as the Chairman and CEO of News Corp, he bears moral responsibility for the culture he’s created in his company and the behavior that has resulted.

The fallout from Hacking-gate is still far from over, with the FBI now investigating possible wrongdoing on this side of the Atlantic.

Murdoch told Parliament that he has no intention of resigning, and that he’s “the best man to clear this up.” A good way to start that process would be for him to re-think and restate his answer to the question of responsibility.

2 Comments

  1. I totally agree, Rupert should of accepted responsibility for this fiasco. Even if he didn’t know what was going on, ultimately he is in charge and needs to take the bad as well as reap the rewards.
    It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the coming weeks and months.

  2. FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!
    beinging from Chicago, i remember a newspaper called THE SUNTIMES. It was a nice paper, good journalism,the funny section, entertaining,educating, the obits most everything that you could look for in a small or big city newspaper. then along came a man i’d never heard of called Rupert Murdoch. i didn’t know our newspaper was for sale but he bought it. so much for our SUNTIMES as we knew it. the 1st edition put out by mr. newsman himself was of the person w/two heads and the sighting of an alien with a picture of the green alien. at 1st i thought i had picked up THE INQUIRER!!!! No it’s what i later became to know as mr. murdoch’s idea of good news. so was i surprised to hear of the scandal in England. NO, just glad. hopefully just as quickly as good journalism was KILLED it will be SAVED!!!!BY A REAL REAL REAL RICH RICH RICH GOOD J-O-U-N-A-L-I-S-T.

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