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Sarah Dallof ReportingFront and center at this tragedy is the co-owner of the Crandall Canyon Mine: Robert Murray. He's become a controversial figure for his off-topic comments and for the rumors that surround his behavior.
The media has had some trouble with Murray; he actually had one of our photojournalists removed by sheriff's deputies during a scheduled tour of the mine this morning. From kicking photographers off the scene to off-topic statements, Robert Murray's behavior is getting attention around the world.
On Tuesday Murray said, "Every one of these global warming bills that's been introduced in congress to eliminate the coal industry will increase your electric rates four to five-fold."
Suzanne Horsely, an Asst. Communications Professor at the U of U, said, "This is where he was being unnecessarily defensive. He needed to go back on message and say, we have men trapped in the mine this is what we're doing to save them."
Horsely has written a paper on crisis communication in the coal industry and has been watching the Crandall Canyon Mine collapse story develop and Murray's handling of the situation. She says, "He's being a little dramatic, but again, he's a very emotional person."
That emotion, she believes, is driven by Murray's concern for his employees and company. Horsely also believes Murray took on too much responsibility.
"He also needs a professional communicator who can be on camera, work with reporters, talk to families," she said.
Horsely has noticed marked improvement in Murray's press conferences. Not only are other experts involved, but Murray has narrowed his focus and is staying on topic.
Horsely said, "He talked a lot about action: what they're doing, how they're doing it. Those are the messages you want seen from the beginning."
If time is what Murray needs to improve his image, sadly, it looks like he'll get it. Crews estimate they're days away from a rescue.
Hundreds of people have commented on our message boards about Murray. Some are critical, calling his behavior that of "a two year old child." Others defend him, saying he's just doing his job.