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Nov 25 2011

Piers Morgan and the Murdoch phone tapping scandal

In the continuing fallout of the scandal involving the Murdoch media empire, Rupert Murdoch’s son James has resigned from the boards of the Sun and the Times and shareholders are being urged to not re-elect him as chair of BSkyB.

In an interesting sidelight, it is alleged that phone hacking also occurred at the Daily Mirror (not a Murdoch paper) during the time it was edited by the smarmy Piers Morgan, who had formerly been editor of Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World. (Piers Morgan is someone to whom the description ‘smarmy’ should be treated like his first name.) Although he denies being personally involved in the practice, Morgan said that this kind of phone hacking was going on at almost every newspaper in London, but that it was done by investigators hired by the papers, not the reporters themselves, as if that somehow mitigates the offense.

I recently watched the 2003 BBC TV miniseries State of Play, the story of how investigations into the death of an aide and mistress of a prominent British MP unravels the net of intrigue involving government, big business, and the media. The reporters covering the story routinely record people’s conversations and access their phone records, suggesting that even though the story is fictional, this is standard practice. The film version starring Russell Crowe was released in 2009. I have not seen it but reading about it suggests that they have stuck pretty close to the original storyline, except for transplanting it to the US. The one thing they may have done differently is Hollywoodized the ending, which I would have to see the film to know.

But it’s not like everyone hates Piers Morgan. Andy Dick has started a fan club.

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