July 18, 2011 / 4:05 PM / 9 years ago

Commercial rivalry taints Murdoch coverage - report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - “Commercial and ideological motives” are behind much of the media “braying” for politicians to take down Rupert Murdoch over the phone-hacking scandal, the Wall Street Journal said on Monday.

News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch is driven from his apartment in London, July 18, 2011 REUTERS/Paul Hackett

“The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw,” the Journal, owned by Murdoch’s News Corp, said in an editorial.

“It is also worth noting the irony of so much moral outrage devoted to a single media company, when British tabloids have been known for decades for buying scoops and digging up dirt on the famous,” said the newspaper, which Murdoch took over four years ago when News Corp acquired Dow Jones and Co.

Politicians bemoaning media influence over politics are the same statesmen who have long coveted media support, the Journal said.

“The idea that the BBC and the Guardian newspaper aren’t attempting to influence public affairs, and don’t skew their coverage to do so, can’t stand a day’s scrutiny,” it said.

In another apparent swipe at the Guardian, the Journal took issue with lectures on journalistic standards from newspapers that played a big role in releasing secret WikiLeaks cables.

“They want their readers to believe, based on no evidence, that the tabloid excesses of one publication somehow tarnish thousands of other News Corp journalists across the world.”

The hacking allegations centre on News Corp’s News of the World weekly, which the company shuttered when the hacking allegations flared earlier this month.

The Journal, noting that News Corp executives have apologized profusely over the scandal, defended Les Hinton, who resigned as Wall Street Journal publisher last week.

Hinton, who has denied any wrongdoing, was in charge of Murdoch’s UK newspapers when much of the hacking was reported to have taken place.

“We have no reason to doubt him, especially based on our own experience working for him,” the paper said.

“On ethical questions, his judgement was as sound as that of any editor we’ve had.”

The Journal also said that a U.S. investigation into whether News Corp executives had paid British police for news overstepped the law and warned that it could result in a media regulator.

“Do our media brethren really want to invite Congress and prosecutors to regulate how journalists gather the news?”

Reporting by Roy Strom; Editing by Ted Kerr

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