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Amid scandal, Murdoch kills off News of the World
“News Corp. has taken a bold decision to stop printing the News of the World and close the title. Mr. Murdoch was clearly not willing to jeopardize his bid for BSkyB,” said markets analyst Louise Cooper of BGC Partners in London. “Murdoch has shown what a brilliant operator he really is.”
Graham Foulkes, whose 22-year-old son David was one of the 52 people killed in the 2005 London transit bombings _ and who suspects his phone may have been hacked _ said the paper’s closure was “a cynical decision” by Murdoch.
The 43-year-old Brooks, editor of News of the World at the time of the eavesdropping allegations, has maintained she did not know about it. James Murdoch said he was “satisfied she neither had knowledge of nor directed” the phone hacking.
News International spokeswoman Daisy Dunlop denied rumors that The Sun, the News of The World’s sister paper that publishes Monday through Saturday, would now become a seven-day operation. Still, she seemed to leave room for further developments.
“It’s not true at the moment,” she said.
According to online records, an unnamed U.K. individual on Tuesday bought up the rights to the domain name “sunonsunday.co.uk.”
Former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, one of the tabloid’s alleged hacking victims, said closing the paper would not resolve the problems at News International.
“Cutting off the arm doesn’t mean to say you’ve solved it,” he said. “There is still the body and the head and the same culture and that’s why there has be a public inquiry into it. I cannot accept for a moment that at the top of the company, Mr. Murdoch _ and certainly Rebekah Brooks _ didn’t know what was going on.”
But Charlie Beckett, director of the POLIS media institute at the London School of Economics, said it was a bold move aimed at resolving a situation that had got out of control.
“This is a fantastically brave move to try and cleanse everything and put a stop to it,” Beckett said.
The long-running hacking saga exploded Monday with the revelation that the News of the World had hacked into Milly Dowler’s voice mail soon after her 2002 disappearance and deleted some messages, giving her parents and police false hope the girl was still alive and hampering their investigation. Her body was discovered months later.
Later, newspapers alleged the tabloid obtained the phone numbers of relatives of people killed in the July 7, 2005, terrorist attacks on London’s transit system, as well as those tied to two more slain schoolgirls and the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
What many saw as an acceptable, if illegal, tactic used to gather scoops on drug-using celebrities, philandering politicians or cheating star athletes suddenly became completely unacceptable when missing children and grieving families were targeted.
There is so far no evidence the soldiers’ and bomb victims’ families’ phones were hacked or that the newspaper did anything illegal in obtaining their numbers. Nonetheless, a storm of outrage followed.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
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