While News Corp’s public stance is: “We’re sorry,” the strong message from News Corp’s American employees and supporters is: “No we’re not.”
I listened to the opening half hour of Mark Steyn substituting for Rush Limbaugh today. I normally very much enjoy Steyn’s radio presence: funny, warm, not bombastic, and endearingly Canadian. Today however was not a good day. Steyn devoted his opening monologue to a defense of News Corporation’s phone-hacking and police-bribing.
Steyn adopted the WSJ editorial line that freedom of the press is put into peril if media organizations are called to account for legal violations like bribing cops. And he argued that the attention to the Murdoch case represents an attempted “misdirection” from the much greater and more immediate threat of abuse of power by government.
To paraphrase: Yes, regrettable things were done by a few stray employees at News Corp. But the company has been shuttered, people have been held to account. Meanwhile in the public sector, civil servants are seldom if ever fired. Where’s the accountability in government? Why don’t politicians hold themselves to account rather than harassing Rupert Murdoch?
As I listened to this, I wondered: Is it possible that anybody could find this line of defense credible? And then: is this about to become the effective conservative position on the hacking story? I mean the WSJ editorial page & now the Rush Limbaugh show: doctrine does not become much more ex cathedra than that.
I remember when we were supposed to worry about Obama’s “gangster government,” with massive invasions of privacy and breaches of legality. Now we have actual invasions of privacy and outright police corruption. And yet that’s to be dismissed as no big deal? For sure, there remain a lot of unknowns in this case. Nobody should be leaping to conclusions or hastening to blame individuals who may well be personally innocent. But if the bribing of policemen does not scandalize you … you need to reset your scandal-o-meter.