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Friday, July 15, 2011
NewsBusters Shifts Into Equivocate-And-Denounce Mode On News of the World Scandal
Topic: NewsBusters

Now that the Media Research Center has decided to weigh on the Rupert Murdoch-News of the World scandal (after trying to dismiss it a few months ago), it has fallen into its usual pattern of dealing with such things: equivocate and denounce.

Aubrey Vaughan writes on the former in a July 13 NewsBusters post:

For the past few days, everyone has relished the opportunity to pounce on the lack of media ethics by Rupert Murdoch affiliated tabloid News of the World, but are neglecting to recognize the lack of media ethics by much more mainstream media outlets on this side of the Atlantic.

Over the past three years, often to the chagrin of TV news audiences, Casey Anthony has been the star of the airwaves. Casey, a resident of Orlando, Florida, was indicted on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, and aggravated child abuse following the death of her daughter, Caylee. Last week, Casey was found not guilty of these charges, and thanks to her previous good behavior in prison, is scheduled to go home Sunday. With her imminent release, brazen media outlets will soon begin duking it out to land the coveted first interview with the newly free Casey. Thanks to the thousands of dollars they put towards helping her throughout the trial, though, it seems that ABC News might already have a head start in the competition.


To help pay the bills, defense attorney Jose Baez revealed last March that Casey's team had accepted $200,000 from ABC News to help pay off her legal bills in exchange for exclusive pictures and videos. A spokesperson for ABC News told Mediabistro, "In August 2008 we licensed exclusive rights to an extensive library of photos and home video for use by our broadcasts, platforms, affiliates and international partners. No use of the material was tied to any interview."

It reportedly wasn't the first time ABC helped the Anthony family, either. Mediabistro reported that "[n]ewly released court documents reveal[ed] ABC News paid for a three-night hotel stay at a Central Florida Ritz-Carlton for the grandparents of murdered toddler Caylee Anthony," only days after Caylee's remains were found.

ABC also paid $15,000 to meter reader Roy Kronk, the man who originally found Caylee's decaying remains. He was paid for a picture he took of a rattlesnake in the woods taken in the same vicinity where he found a mysterious object that later turned out to be Caylee's decomposed body. Of course, with a payment that large, Kronk figured an interview was in the works as well, and within days, he appeared on Good Morning America.

Yes, Vaughan really thinks paying sources for scoops is no different than breaking the law by hacking into people's voice mail for story ideas. We don't dispute that paying sources is a serious ethical issue in journalism. But it's at least a few orders of magnitude smaller than the News of the World's phone-hacking.

Demonstrating the latter is Tim Graham, who attacked NPR for covering it at all:

Unsurprisingly, Fox-hating National Public Radio has eagerly embraced the nasty scandal of phone-hacking at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid, which included dastardly deeds like hacking into the phone messages of abducted 13-year-old Milly Dowler, whose parents thought she might be alive because a tabloid reporter was messing with her phone.

NPR was so excited by this scandal that they sent media reporter David Folkenflik to London, and he’s filed eight reports in the last week – and starred in a one-hour Diane Rehm Show devoted to the “Murdoch Tabloid Scandal” on Tuesday, in which the name “Murdoch” was used 70 times.

As he has before, Graham whined that NPR "the million-dollar grant NPR received from George Soros at almost the same time that Soros gave a million-plus to Media Matters for America to get cable operators to 'Drop Fox.' NPR should really try a fuller disclosure when it dives into scandals that please its liberal sugar daddies." Graham, of course, makes no mention of the conservative sugar daddies he must please by writing such things.

Meanwhile, Matthew Balan was upset that NPR reported on a self-described "geek socialist" who is leading a fledging boycott against Murdoch's News Corp. Apropos of nothing but the MRC anti-gay agenda, Balan concluded by noting that earlier in the year NPR had "spotlighted a homosexual activist's income tax protest."

Posted by Terry K. at 12:03 AM EDT

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