Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper may have hacked into people’s cellphones

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News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch owns tabloids all over the world, including The New York Post, The Sun, and the U.K.-based News of the World. The latter is this week embroiled in scandal; its editors allegedly hacked into the phones of movie stars, athletes, and crime victims, in search of juicy details for their stories. Few journalism schools approve of this kind of thing, safe to say.

The paper had previously been accused of hacking into phones belonging to Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller; Miller won a formal apology and $160,000 in damages from News Corp. this month. Today, more accusations have surfaced; News of the World apparently hacked into phones belonging to the families of three murder victims, as well as the victims of the 7/7 terrorist attacks that killed fifty-two people in London in 2005. In the wake of the charges, News Corp. stock is falling, and several cellphone manufacturers and other companies have pulled or threatened to pull their advertising from News of the World.

In a statement, Murdoch called the hacking "deplorable and unacceptable," but is backing his U.K. news chief, Rebekah Brooks, who's facing growing pressure to resign. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said the scandal was "absolutely disgusting" and called for an investigation. But maybe the most deliciously British response comes from Guardian commentator and journalism professor Roy Greenslade, who quipped, "Unless we cleanse the Augean stables of Wapping [where News of the World is printed], we will suffer for ever from public odium." Greenslade, always so droll! Imagine Sir Ian McKellen reading that zinger aloud — you'll enjoy it more.

In any event, Murdoch-owned properties have long blurred the line between news and entertainment. This story is pretty unsavory, but maybe not so surprising.