News Corp.'s Clumsy Media Defense Continues

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

When the history of Rupert Murdoch's ownership of the Wall Street Journal is written, it's likely that today's petulant, tin-eared unsigned editorial about the sprawling phone-hacking scandal will be noted as an important low point. Indeed, the wildly misguided and clownish piece, which reads like a furious, indignant Murdoch himself wrote it, might mark a turning point of sorts.

The editorial, which is being eviscerated online, as well it should, represents just one example in recent days of Murdoch's American properties trying desperately to come to their owner's aid by offering up the unseemly combination of fabrications and self-pity.

Recall that late last week on Fox & Friends, the morning crew cobbled together a dreadful, there's-nothing-to-see-here effort in hopes of changing the hacking story. (Let's move on, people.) Sadly for Fox and its friends, that same day news broke that two key Murdoch lieutenants, Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton, had been forced out of the company. (Brooks was soon arrested.)

So much for moving on.

But facts rarely get in the way over at Fox, so over the weekend they gave it another go. Appearing on Fox News Watch, James Pinkerton warned that any attempt to investigate News Corp. would be proof of a partisan, liberal agenda inside the White House. Except Pinkerton failed to note it was a Republican Congressman from New York who was among the first to urge the FBI to look into News Corp.

And now comes today's Journal's humdinger editorial. I encourage everyone to read it in full to get the true sense of what the grip of corporate denial sounds like.

Here's just a flavor: The Journal defends the actions of its former publisher Les Hinton, who was forced out of the company on Friday. Hinton was tainted by the scandal because prior to joining the Journal he oversaw what was supposed to have been a thorough internal News Corp. investigation into hacking allegations. The investigation turns out of have been something of a joke, which raises all kinds of questions about his involvement.

Now, the Journal today [emphasis added]:

In his resignation letter, Mr. Hinton said he knew nothing about wide-scale hacking and had testified truthfully to Parliament in 2007 and 2009. We have no reason to doubt him, especially based on our own experience working for him.

Ah, editorial writers have worked with Hinton. He was their colleague. Therefore they blindly believe Hinton's version of hacking events. And so should everyone else. Especially pesky journalists and members of Parliament.

Note to News Corp.: These defensive displays are becoming comical, and if anyone at the company headquarters has any sense left, they would stop the outbursts immediately.

Wall Street Journal, News Corp.
Rupert Murdoch
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