LONDON—Embroiled in a vast phone-hacking scandal involving the company he founded, respected entrepreneur and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch expressed concern Monday that he might have caused significant damage to his heretofore pristine reputation.
Murdoch, who established his widely admired career on the foundations of basic morality and sound business ethics, has, until now, been revered as a pillar of honesty and accountability in the media world. However, the Australian-American billionaire said the events of the past few months could make it very difficult for him to restore honor to his otherwise spotless legacy.
“I have spent more than 50 years working to establish a résumé of integrity, virtue, and unwavering beneficence, and now it could all be washed away by this one careless mistake,” said Murdoch, speaking with the candor, sensitivity, and humility for which he is greatly admired. “I have let down my family, I have let down my employees, but most importantly, I have let down all of those around the world who have long known me as both a genuine humanitarian and a gatekeeper for truth.”
As news of the scandal continues to blemish the tradition of journalistic excellence and dignity exemplified by News Corp.–owned outlets such as the New York Post and the Fox News channel, Murdoch himself has remained focused on rectifying his missteps, starting with paying those affected out of his own pocket.
“Look, anyone who knows me knows that I have never cared about money,” said Murdoch, explaining that his distress over invading the private lives of citizens far outweighs his concern for his company’s quickly falling stock prices. “While some of my competitors focus on sensationalist or partisan headlines to sell papers, I’ve always been willing to do whatever it takes to ensure my products are as fair and committed to the truth as I myself am. After all, truth and fairness are what people have come to expect from Rupert Murdoch.”
“You don’t get to be the world’s most successful media mogul by being unscrupulous,” Murdoch added.
Members of the media elite said they were stunned to learn that Murdoch, who has always served as the exemplar of all that is good and decent in his profession, was capable of such a clear ethical violation.
“I keep waiting to hear a report that this is all some kind of mistake,” media expert Ken Auletta said of the controversy that has caused millions of people to reassess their opinion of Rupert Murdoch as a man of the most upstanding moral pedigree. “If someone like Rupert—who I think we can all agree was regarded as one of the finest human beings on the planet before this shocking scandal broke—can compromise his values and violate the principles of journalistic integrity that he himself has always been so deeply committed to, it really makes you lose faith in the entire industry.”
Despite the fallout from the controversy continuing to implicate News Corp. employees and other powerful people throughout the United Kingdom, Murdoch has been lauded for unflinchingly bearing the full burden of the scandal.
“Obviously, my only recourse is to protect what’s left of my reputation and the reputation of News Corp. by resigning as chairman and CEO,” Murdoch said. “There can be no scapegoats. And out of respect for the victims, I will not settle any charges against me out of court. Justice must be served.”