Rupert Murdoch acknowledges News Corp. errors
News Corp. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch sought to move beyond a damaging report from Parliament accusing him of "willful blindness" in failing to properly investigate allegations of phone hacking by one one of his company's London-based tabloids.
Murdoch, in a message to News Corp.'s 50,000 employees Tuesday, said the findings by the Culture, Media and Sport committee were "difficult to read" -- but afforded "an opportunity to reflect upon the mistakes we have made.
"We have done the most difficult part, which has been to take a long, hard and honest look at our past mistakes," Murdoch wrote. "There is no easy way around this, but I am proud to say that we have been working hard to put things right."
The select committee of the House of Commons found that "News of the World" and News International, the company's British publishing division, misled the committee in a 2009 investigation into phone hacking by blaming the actions on a "rogue reporter." The committee found that the media company continued to downplay the involvement of its employees in phone hacking and engaged in a cover-up, rather than seeking out wrongdoing.
News Corp. issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging the "hard truths" that emerged from the committee's investigation: that it had been "too slow and too defensive; and that some of our employees misled the Select Committee in 2009."
But News Corp. took issue with some comments, which the company labeled "unjustified and highly partisan." This appeared to be a reference to an explosive line in the report that called Murdoch "not a fit person" to lead a major international company.
Murdoch wrote that the company should have acted more quickly and aggressively to uncover wrongdoing, and he expressed regret for failing to rectify the situation sooner.
News Corp., and Murdoch, sought to underscore the company's efforts to fix the situation. Murdoch noted that an autonomous committee set up by News Corp. has completed a review of conduct at the company's other British publications, The Times and Sunday Times and The Sun, and found no evidence of illegal conduct beyond one incident reported months ago, in which disciplinary action was taken.
News Corp. General Counsel Gerson Zweifach is also creating a system of education and a compliance structure across the company's businesses. News International, the group that controls the company's British publications, also instituted governance reforms.
"The opportunity to emerge from this difficult period a stronger, better company has never been greater," Murdoch wrote. "And I will look to each of you to help me ensure that News Corp.'s next 60 years are more vital and successful than ever."
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski
Photo: Rupert Murdoch, right, and his son James Murdoch in July 2011. Credit: Sang Tan / Associated Press