Rupert Murdoch's Apology to Family of Dead Teen Is Too Little, Too Late

rupert murdochMedia mogul Rupert Murdoch is appearing before a committee of the British Parliament Tuesday to answer questions on the widening phone-hacking scandal. During his son James Murdoch's opening testimony, the very sad-looking 80-year-old billionaire interrupted to say: "This is the most humble day of my life." But it's difficult to feel compassion for the man at the center of a scandal with so many innocent hacking victims -- allegedly, several thousand -- including the family of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

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Dowler was a 13-year-old who went missing in 2002 on her way home from school and was found dead six months later; while her family and the police searched for her in vain, journalists from the now-defunct News of the World (one of many publications owned by Murdoch) hacked into Dowler's cellphone in search of information for news stories and even deleted some of her messages to make room for more.

When news of the hacking came out in early July, an outraged public demanded accountability; since then, several celebrities, politicians, and average citizens (including the families of people killed in 9/11 terrorist attacks) have come forward to allege phone hacking. Now the scandal has spiraled into a crisis for Murdoch and his media empire.

Murdoch recently met and apologized to the Dowler family. The apology itself wasn't public, but the Dowler family's lawyer explained to reporters how it went down, saying that Murdoch was:

... very humbled, very shaken, and very sincere. I think this was something that had hit him on a personal level. He apologized many times -- I don't think somebody could have held his head in his hands as many times and said they were sorry.

Of course, apologizing to this poor family was the right thing to do. And the lawyer's statement would suggest that it provided them some comfort. But it should have happened long before. This story broke over the 4th of July weekend, and his initial reaction was that his company had made only "minor mistakes" and had handled the crisis "extremely well in every way possible." He also added that he was "annoyed" by negative headlines. In the end, almost two weeks had gone by before he apologized.

At this late in the game, with so much at stake, it seems more like a desperate attempt to transform his image than a sincere apology.

 

Image via David Shankbone/Flickr

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