What are we to make of this little apology on page two of The Australian today, in which Caroline Overington expresses sincere regrets for her “encounter” with Labor candidate for Wentworth, George Newhouse, on polling day?

It is, to put it mildly, a shift from The Oz’s previous stance on issues to do with the Overington/Newhouse encounters, including the extraordinary exchange of e-mails before election day.

Overington and her editor dismissed the first revelations about her e-mails as a joke. Now, it seems, the mood at The Australian has sobered and darkened. Overington is attempting to keep a low profile – and now this apology.

Nobody is talking about the behind the scenes negotiations that surely have taken place, but clearly the lawyers have been involved.

Overington herself says she is bound by a confidentiality agreement, and can say nothing in public about any of it. Chris Mitchell, editor in chief at The Australian, did not return calls asking for comment before Crikey’s deadline. The mobile of George Newhouse himself rings out, and he had not responded to text messages before deadline.

All quiet on the eastern suburban front?