News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has issued a public apology for the News of the World scandal, which appears in several British national newspapers this weekend. The final text is available here.
For those unfamiliar with the exciting world of public relations, these kinds of official statements often go through a rigorous process of draft, revision, review, more revision, show it to legal, start over, and finally approval by the person whose name appears at the bottom. S&R has obtained a copy of Murdoch’s original draft and the redline revision produced by Edelman, the PR agency handling the crisis. Edelman, whose client list doesn’t include Charles Manson, Hitler, Simon Cowell or NAMBLA, but would if they showed up with a suitcase full of cash, is very highly regarded when it comes to the task of lipsticking rabid pigs.
Strikethrough sections are Murdoch’s original words, which Edelman crisis management executives felt should be removed. The red text was suggested by the agency. Bracketed comments are Edelman notes.
Here’s my letter of apology. See if you can clean it up a little and make sure there aren’t any spelling errors. -RM
[Rupert - Thanks for the obvious thought you've put into this - it gives us a really strong foundation to work from. The whole team admires your no-nonsense instincts. There are a couple of places where we advise slight changes in wording in order to soften the tone a little.]
“The News of the World was in the business of making as much money as possible holding others to account. Ethics are for pussies and losers. [Potentially inflammatory.] It failed when it came to itself.
“We are sorry that we got caught for the serious wrongdoing that occurred.* I’m still not sure what the big deal is, though. I’m 100 years old. Phone hacking? When I was a kid we had telegraphs and the Pony Express. What the hell do I know about hacking? It was that Rebekah Brooks bitch. And Coulson. I never trusted that sulky little git from day one. Besides, it’s not like the “victims” lost millions of dollars or anything. Goddammit, I’M the victim here. We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals affected.
“We regret not acting faster to cover our asses sort things out. But hey, I’m saying I’m sorry, so can we just put this behind us and focus on the BSkyB deal?
I realize that simply apologizing is not enough. [The appearance of contrition is important here, as we are trying to ease the path for our allies in Parliament. The team wonders if mentioning BSkyB might lend a false impression that Mr. Murdoch is more mercenary than he actually is?]
“Our business was founded on the idea that a free and open press is a great way to make fuckloads of cash while destroying our enemies at the same time should be a positive force in society. The rest of you need to grow a set and stop whining. We need to live up to this. [Our tone here must project a strongly pro-social attitude. Client's instincts, while certainly valid on their face, might be interpreted by opportunistic opponents as being unduly combative.]
“In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to see if we can bribe our way out of this mess resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us. Bet your sweet asses on that, bitches. ["Resolve these issues" strikes a more conciliatory tone than "bribe," don't you think?]
“Sincerely, Rupert Murdoch”
* At this point “wrongdoing” can’t really hurt us, so its use will make us appear as though we’re being accountable. Note that we don’t say we did wrong, merely that wrongdoing occurred – legal insisted on this.
S&R’s Public Interest Desk will continue to monitor the story as it develops.