Friday, July 05, 2013

Murdoch: now he says sorry to staff

So, Rupert Murdoch has finally apologised to staff about his extraordinary over-reaction in the wake of the phone-tapping scandal.

He admitted to Sun staff that he had panicked as the allegations piled up and made them "victims" of the inevitable fallout. He over-rteacted when it became personal, in other words.

It’s hard to find a kind word in Wapping even a year later about the knee-jerk closure of the News of the World. And as for the internal management standards committee, it’s just best not to breathe its name.

The climbdown, a whole year later, may have gone down well in some quarters but, if he’s honest with himself, he knows this is something he should have done a long time ago, rather than bowing under the weight of personal pressure.

An internal inquiry is one thing, cleaning up your act and co-operating with police another. But to go from years of turning blind-eyes to unsavoury but acceptable practices to one of sheer disbelief and outrage when the lid was lifted was a step way beyond a bung to a dodgy copper or a fiddle with a pin number. He may well not know about any of what was going on, but he knows his market and his industry.

And now the ultimate in back-tracking: he may keep on anyone convicted of a criminal offence? In a way, I’m even warmed a little by that. If I’d shopped or sacked everyone I’d ever worked, with for or alongside, for being a little dodgy now and again, it’d be like editing the paper on your own in those days when strikes used to clear newsrooms.

Even so, I’m not sure what message this sends out to an already cynical readership, such as they are. Making independent corporate judgments is one thing, as is deciding enough is enough when it comes to throwing more staff on the bonfire, but a wholesale U-turn because a year has passed and the Leveson message is, as it was always going to be, in disarray? Dunno.

And to make matters worse, the whole thing came to light because someone secretly recorded it. You couldn’t make it up.