Friday, July 15, 2011

Murdoch’s issues

Did you notice this sentence in Rupert Murdoch’s letter of contrition?

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.
The passive voice would be the more usual way to skirt responsibility in such a context:
In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage that has been done, you will hear more from us.
Murdoch’s phrasing — “resolve these issues,” “make amends for the damage they have caused” — is a more subtle (though still transparent) way to avoid acknowledging responsibility. Murdoch’s phrasing places blame not on individual agents but on difficulties and problems that were somehow in the air. It’s like a driver blaming issues with alcohol for the damage to his car. But it’s not issues that drive drunk — or hack phones. A more forthright version of Murdoch’s sentence might read as follows:
In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to set things right and make amends for the damage we have done, you will hear more from us.
I still wouldn’t believe him though.

comments: 2

Diane Schirf said...

I sense the hand of a legal team. Never acknowledge fault, which could haunt you in court.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, I wondered about that (though he does speak of making amends).