Fox On the Run

Rupert Murdoch and friends take a stroll down "Desolation Boulevard"*

LONDON — The media titan Rupert Murdoch sought to stanch damage from a deepening phone hacking scandal on Thursday by sacrificing the mass-circulation British weekly The News of the World, in a bid to protect his News Corporation empire.

The saga turned yet more disturbing Thursday with suggestions that the paper had broken into the voicemail not only of a 13-year-old murder victim but also of relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the paper had paid tens of thousands of dollars in bribes to police officers for information.

The scandal had been taking a toll on the News Corporation, driving down its stock price. Some advertisers were fleeing The News of the World, and new doubts emerged about Mr. Murdoch’s proposed $12 billion takeover of the pay-television company British Sky Broadcasting, in which he already owns a large stake. Many legislators have now criticized the deal, and it appears unlikely that the government will decide before the end of the summer whether to let it go ahead.

Wow -- to me this story is a lot more stunning and interesting than the Casey Anthony case, but that's just me. The salacious facts of the actual story are pretty amazing, but so are the unanswered questions. Will these revelations cause more scrutiny for Murdoch's extensive business and journalistic activities here in the United States. They should, as I'll discuss (hopefully) in an upcoming post.

One outrage that hasn't gotten enough attention is how Murdoch and his minions have sullied the broader reputation of the art and profession of journalism. I can't help but imagine that the average person reads a story like this and wonders whether such practices are widespread throughout the business, incluiding here in the United States. I can assure you from my 30 years in newspapers they are not -- but many readers may not believe such assurances, and frankly...can you blame them?

* Reference for people old enough to remember 1974 only.