The Journal’s twisted self-defense
By Gregg Easterbrook
The views expressed are his own.
Todayâ€™s Wall Street Journal in its lead editorial declares Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation all but saints walking on Earth, claiming â€śpoliticians and competitors are using the phone-hacking years ago at a British corner of News Corporation to assail the Journal and perhaps injure press freedom.â€ť
If patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels, press freedom is the last refuge of tabloid gutter-dwellers. But note two corruptions in that single sentence of the Journalâ€™s embarrassing editorial.
First, casually the Journal acknowledges the scandalâ€™s initial charge is true, referring to â€śthe phone-hacking years ago at a British corner of News Corp.â€ť Just last week, Murdoch was vehemently saying in the Journalâ€™s pages that some of the accusations were â€śtotal lies.”
Second, the Journal pretends everything bad happened â€śyearsâ€ť in the past. Yet just a week ago, before Murdochâ€™s weekend admission that â€śserious wrongdoing occurred,â€ť Murdoch and other News Corporation officials were insisting their company was unfairly accused. The hacking was the initial offense. The attempted cover-up was a second and in some ways greater offense, because there is no such thing as a â€śrogueâ€ť cover-up: all cover-ups start at the top.
Nevertheless the Journal pretends everything bad happened â€śyears ago.â€ť How painful to behold the paperâ€™s editorial page sell its soul to engage in obvious boot-kissing for Murdoch and his front-office minions.
If weâ€™d taken the Wall Street Journalâ€™s word for it as recently as last week, all would have been hushed over. Compare this to the Washington Postâ€™s brutal honesty about Janet Cooke, or the New York Timesâ€™s brutal honesty about Jayson Blair and Judith Miller. Compare them, and you have the difference between â€“ journalism and the News Corporation.