WSJ mea culpa: we were too easy on Murdoch
Editorial integrity committee agrees interview with its proprietor was not tough enough
Good to see that the special arrangements made at the Wall Street Journal in 2007 to deal with their new proprietor Rupert Murdoch, should he overstep the mark, have kicked into action.
As the Mole reported a week ago, the Journal was in danger of upsetting its own journalists as much its readers when it appeared to offer Murdoch a platform to explain himself a matter of days before his appearance before the Commons culture select committee.
In bullish mood - quite opposite to the forlorn, humbled character he presented to Parliament - Murdoch told his interviewer (and employee) that News Corp had made only "minor mistakes" in its handling of the phone hacking scandal at the News of the World.
He also said he intended to use his coming visit to Westminster to address "some of the things that have been said in Parliament, some of which are total lies. We think it's important to absolutely establish our integrity in the eyes of the public".
All of this was reported in an unquestioning style by the Journal and it came at a time when WSJ staffers were already said to be deeply upset at the sudden association with the News of the World that Murdoch's four-year-old ownership had brought upon them.
As one staffer told the Daily Beast: "It stinks. It makes our stomachs churn, to be bizarrely held accountable for some dipshit tabloid guys from eight years ago."
Now, the Journal's special editorial committee - set up in 2007 to safeguard the paper's editorial integrity - has decided that the paper "could have done a better job" when it published the interview with its boss which, to make matters worse, appeared only 24 hours before the resignations of Rebekah Brooks and the Journal's publisher Les Hinton.
"[The Journal] could have done a better job with a recent story allowing Mr Murdoch to get his side of the story on the record without tougher questioning," the special committee reports. "We have discussed this with the involved editors."
Whether this will be enough to quieten the Journal's critics, we shall see. Joe Nocera, a New York Times columnist, wrote the other day: "The Journal was turned into a propaganda vehicle for its owner's conservative views. That's half the definition of Fox-ification. The other half is that Murdoch's media outlets must shill for his business interests. With the News of the World scandal, the Journal has now shown itself willing to do that, too."
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