"They wanted to come off as credible, and not be arrogant," the executive said, requesting anonymity. "When the committee members asked Rupert Murdoch, 'Are you responsible?' and he said, 'No,' to me, that was an unbelievable answer ... he needed to take responsibility."
The PR efforts suffered another setback when the Murdoch-owned Times of London published a political cartoon titled, "Priorities" that showed three starving Somalis holding empty bowls as one of them says, "I've had a bellyful of phone-hacking."
Critics quickly blasted the cartoon. "Good God. Murdoch's troops [know] no bounds," the media critic Jeff Jarvis said on Twitter.
Tennyson said the cartoon was so at odds with News Corp.'s message of contrition during the parliamentary hearing, it had to be the work of a rogue editor.
"There is nothing to make fun of here," he said. "It certainly didn't help."