So far the News Corp-owned Wall St. Journal has acquitted itself excellently in its coverage of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
Today’s angry and defensive editorial titled ‘News and Its Critics’, however, is a strange, strange addition to its reporting.
Actually, it reads like it was written by Bill O’Reilly for one of his FOX News ‘talking points’ segments.
Here is the short version:
- Everyone in Britain hacks phones so News Corp’s behaviour was in keeping with the times.
- This happened years ago at a “British corner of News Corp.”
- It’s only a big deal because the far left media elite are unfairly using it as an opportunity to pile on.
Those last two points have been popping up on Fox News of late, also. And, if this op-ed is anything to judge by, will likely become a familiar refrain.
Last week FOX’s morning show Fox & Friends did a report on the scandal that wrapped the phone-hacking into the much larger hacking problem that is occurring nation-wide, emphasised that this hacking had occurred years ago, and suggested the liberal media elite quit ‘piling on.’
The WSJ piece appears to be inspired at least in part by Dow Jones CEO Les Hinton‘s sudden resignation on Friday. Hinton is credited with putting the Dow Jones back on the right track, and there are reports that he left the news to a round of applause. His absence puts the Dow Jones in some uncertain waters.
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.
However, the op-ed also takes a wide swing at the Guardian (and possibly the NYT), the paper that has lead the years-long crusade to uncover the phone-hacking scandal: “We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics. The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur.”
It then takes a a direct hit at the Bancroft family who last week said they regretted the sale of the paper in light of the scandal: “We shudder to think what the Journal would look like today without the sale to News Corp.”
Indeed. At least they avoided the phrase ‘don’t retreat, reload’ though that would certainly sum up the underlying message.
To be clear, what we are likely seeing here is the official declaration of News Corps’ American talking points ahead of the scandal coming Stateside.
Howie Kurtz reports that News Corp is hiring another outside public-relations firm in addition to Edleman to help “spearhead that effort and field inquiries involving Fox News, local Fox stations, and the New York Post.” Presumably this op-ed was their warning shot.
On CNN Sunday Michael Wolff recounted sitting in Murdoch’s office listening to him dictate stories and opinions over the phone to his reporters. It’s hard not to read this and get the sense that’s exactly what happened here.
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