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News Corp. Response Missteps Are Adding Up

Rebekah Brooks has resigned.

News Corp.‘s troubles related to the ongoing investigation into phone-hacking allegations continue to mount. The company’s response to the crisis can now be added to the list of problems.

Rupert Murdoch finally decided to make public comments about the situation, to his own newspaper The Wall Street Journal, of course. Among his thoughts: News Corp. has handled the scandal “extremely well in every way possible”; the negative media is making him “annoyed”; and he defended the speed of his son James’ reaction to the scandal, which has been percolating for years.

The article makes it sound like Murdoch is wearing a set of blinders big enough to block sunlight entirely.

The article ends with Murdoch explaining that his change of heart about appearing before a Parliamentary committee was due to his desire “to be as transparent as possible.” But the comment has the distinct smell of someone who has realized that they have no choice but to talk about the issue. In these big crisis situations where the scrutiny is intense and the pressure for an explanation mounts,  big businesses are now saying they want to be transparent after they’ve been noticeably not transparent and find themselves backed into a corner. It’s a response from a position of weakness because the situation wasn’t handled better at the start.

Today we also have news that Rebekah Brooks has submitted a letter of resignation, which some are saying is actually a week too late. “News International’s flawless crisis-management masterclass continued this morning as Rebekah Brooks resigned to spend more time with her lawyers,” writes Andrew Sullivan.

Elisabeth Murdoch is also vocal in her criticism of the late decision. She’s been quoted by The Daily Mail saying that Brooks determination to hang on” ‘f***** the company’.”

“The reputation of the company we love so much, as well as the press freedoms we value so highly, are all at risk,” Brooks writes in her resignation letter. “I now need to concentrate on correcting the distortions and rebutting the allegations about my record as a journalist, an editor and executive.”

Yesterday, it was announced that Edelman is working with News Corp. to manage their response. The additional PR help comes none too soon.
The latest news: Now there’s word that a meeting between Murdoch and the family of murdered teen Milly Dowler is taking place and the Dowlers will make a statement afterwards. The Telegraph says the family “were said to be desperate not to be used as an instrument of spin” but agreed nonetheless.

And Mediaite has a copy of the full-page apology ad, written by Rupert Murdoch, that News Corp. will be running this weekend.

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