Sunday, July 10, 2011

The sleazy British tabloid, News of the World, has published its last libel.

After years of lowering standards for reportage around the world, this maven of irresponsibility has lost its century-long race for circulation numbers in the most cynical fashion possible: by going out of business with a bad public apology, not for what it did, but for what it got caught doing. In its final publication, it pats itself on the back and speaks of its pride at 168 years of wallowing in muck. The spin is all about the good things the paper did, but I see no mention of what it was intended to do. It was intended to increase the fortunes of its owners and managers, regardless of the cost to public decency, private lives, and journalistic standards.  

To its friable apology, I say, "Good riddance" to the newspaper that earned the nickname, "News of the Screws." The only sad thing about its demise, besides its own unredeemed attitude toward its behaviour, is the certainty that other sleazy papers will take its place, and will hire all the villains of the piece. I hope instead they are all, individually, subjected to the same kind of intrusive, perverted treatment that they so routinely subjected others to. 

It's bad enough that they slithered around the ankles of Britain's royals and celebrities. To some extent, those people have to expect a certain amount of abusive treatment. But to hack the phones of crime victims, and their families, and the families of soldiers killed in combat .... That is low, even for the serpent in the crib. It reflects a moral gangrene that should infect not just the immediate actors who performed illegal acts — only two so far, but counting — but also those within the organization who allowed, ignored, or acquiesced in those acts. Right up to the very top of the compost heap. They should be pariahs who never live down the shame of what they have done.

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