Last updated: July 7, 2011 - 8:47am
Britain’s Parliament on July 6 collectively turned on Rupert Murdoch, the head of the News Corporation, and the tabloid culture he represents, using a debate about a widening phone hacking scandal to denounce reporting tactics by newspapers once seen as too politically influential to challenge. But though he joined in the chorus of outrage, Prime Minister David Cameron, whose Conservative Party benefits from Murdoch’s support, stopped short of calling for an immediate investigation into behavior by the Murdoch-owned News of the World and other tabloids. Such an inquiry would have to wait, he said, until the police had concluded their own criminal investigation.
From all sides of the House of Commons the disgust came thick and fast, as the legislators recited the most recent allegations against The News of the World: that its executives had paid police officers, lied to Parliament and hired investigators to intercept voice mail messages left on the cellphones of murdered children and terrorism victims. Legislators also attacked the news media in general for employing many of the same tactics. The scandal posed new hurdles for Mr. Murdoch’s proposed $12 billion takeover of the pay-television company British Sky Broadcasting, as many legislators criticized the deal, and Britain’s media regulatory agency, Ofcom, said it was “closely monitoring the situation.”
Risk-taking and line-skirting have always been just one more cost of doing business for Rupert Murdoch. But the widening voice-mail hacking scandal threatens to stain the company’s image in a way that other embarrassing incidents at News Corporation’s far-flung media properties — which also include the Fox networks and The New York Post — have not.
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