How bad has Rupert Murdoch's day been today? Let us count the ways:
1. The New York Times Scotland Yard Report. The New York Times came out with a blockbuster report today on the cozy relationship between News Corp. and the Scotland Yard. The author of the piece, Don Van Natta Jr., points out that "11,000 pages of handwritten notes listing nearly 4,000 celebrities, politicians, sports stars, police officials and victims of crime whose phones may have been hacked" lay for four years in a Scotland Yard evidence room. The details in the piece are highly incriminating: For one, "former editor, Neil Wallis, was reporting back to News International while he was working for the police on the hacking case." Assistant Commissioner John Yates and others "regularly dined with editors from News International papers." Scotland Yard "notified only a small number of the people whose phones were hacked." The evidence goes on and on! As do the adjectives used to describe the actions: "mind-blowing," "embarassing," and "tragic" were some of our favorite.
2. Jude Law's Latest Lawsuit. The last thing the phone-hacking scandal needs is more celebrity involvement. But that's exactly what it's about to get. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jude Law is suing Murdoch's British tabloid The Sun over allegations of phone-hacking, along with his current lawsuit against News of the World. The company’s lawyers accused the actor of a “deeply cynical and deliberately mischievous attempt” to drag The Sun into the scandal. If The Sun is next to face charges after NOTW, that would pose unmeasurable problems fro News International. And whether the suit has merit or not, it may strike many as being a little early for any member of News Corp. to be accusing someone of being "deeply cynical and deliberately mischeivous."
3. A Scolding from Larry Flynt. Things are really bad when, as a publisher, Larry Flynt thinks you've gone too far. In a passionate op-ed for The Washington Post, Flynt, a huge proponent of the freedom of the press, writes:
If News Corp.’s reported wrongdoings are true, what Murdoch’s company has been up to does not just brush against boundaries — it blows right past them... Simply put, he publishes what he wants, apparently regardless of how he gets information and heedless of the responsibility associated with the power he wields.
No matter how offensive or distasteful some people may find Hustler magazine and my other publications, no one has appeared unwillingly in their pages... he has placed all of us who enjoy freedom of the press at grave risk.
4. Ties with the U.K. Government Exposed. As this story is something of an investigative reporter's dream, another report in today's Times looks at the close relationship between News International and Prime Minister David Cameron. "Cameron’s aides released a diary of his meetings with executives and editors of News International," writes John F. Burns, which "shed light on what Mr. Cameron acknowledged last week was the 'cozy and comfortable' world in which politicians, the press and the police in Britain have functioned for decades." Burns notes that "his meetings with the Murdoch officials exceeded all his encounters with other British media representatives put together" and this list "did nothing to assuage the questions about Mr. Cameron’s political judgment." If Cameron gets increasingly embroiled, as seems to be the case, Murdoch's woes will escalate alongside them.
5. Family Fallout. Is the Murdoch family at least keeping it together? Perhaps not. Guardian reports that according to Michael Wolff, Murdoch biographer, the family is falling apart. Murdoch's daughter, Elisabeth, apparently said her brother James had "f*cked the company." There is some speculation as to whether this is true:
Murdoch denied she had said something similar about the ousted News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks. But Wolff wrote on Twitter that those reports were "incomplete": "She said: 'James and Rebekah fucked the company.'"
Of course, Wolff is a noted Murdoch critic. But this is a terrible time for pointing fingers within the family, particularly at James Murdoch, who is coming increasingly under fire.
6. The Failed Apology. CNN reports that Murdoch apologized to the British public with full-page advertisements in seven national newspapers Saturday, also to run Sunday and Monday. "We are sorry," the ad says, available at Guardian. It goes on:
The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself. We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred. We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals affected. We regret not acting faster to sort things out. I realise that simply apologizing is not enough. Our business was founded on the idea that a free and open press should be a positive force in society. We need to live up to this. In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.
So that just smoothed everything over, right? Not quite. Gawker, for one, called it a "Standard PR Firm-Written Apology," adding that:
Rupert Murdoch has apologized to the victims of his company's phone hacking in the most personal way possible: a full page ad. That was probably written by Edelman. What more do you people want?