- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - After remaining on the sidelines of Britain’s phone hacking scandal, Piers Morgan was finally drawn into it, defending himself and his former boss Rupert Murdoch. While Murdoch testified in London before Parliament, Morgan took to Twitter.

A former editor of the News of the World and veteran of the rough-and-tumble business of British tabloids, the CNN host has largely declined to address the scandal on his CNN nightly prime-time show, but he tweeted frequently in support of Murdoch throughout Tuesday’s inquiry.

And on Monday night’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” he made a brief comment about hacking by News of the World employees.

From 1994 to 1995, Morgan was editor of the News Corp.-owned News of the World, which ended publication July 10 over allegations that reporters hacked into phone records of crime victims and others. He was also editor of the British tabloid the Daily Mirror (which wasn’t owned by Murdoch) from 1995-2004.

On Tuesday, though, MP Louise Mensch, while questioning of Murdoch, suggested Morgan’s 2005 autobiography, “The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade,” referenced using phone-hacking for scoops.

Morgan tweeted that the claim was “complete nonsense.” Soon after, he announced that he would appear on CNN’s “The Situation Room” later Tuesday to “(deal) with Ms. Mensch’s nonsense.”

Mensch appeared to confuse her source. In “The Insider,” Morgan does not brag of hacking phones, but writes of being suspicious that he, himself, was hacked. After being warned by a friend, he changed his phone’s security code.

Ms. Mensch is completely and utterly wrong,” Morgan tweeted. “She clearly hasn’t read my book. Can someone please give her a copy?”

Mensch’s office didn’t respond to a request for a comment.

Morgan has backed News Corp. CEO Murdoch during the scandal. Morgan said he was a “big admirer of his” and he would not “join in the kind of witch hunt that’s been going on.”

While following Tuesday’s hearing, he wrote: “Strong finish by Rupert. Love him or hate him, does anyone genuinely think he’s a crook or condoned crime? Because I don’t.”

Much of the questioning directed at Murdoch centered on the chain of command at News Corp. and how involved he was in the day-to-day business of his publications’ newsrooms. Morgan said that while he was editor of News of the World, he and Murdoch spoke every week for 18 minutes and that Murdoch “rarely asked about anything but what stories we had that week.”

Monday night, Morgan noted on his show: “I do not believe that any story we published … was ever gained in an unlawful manner, nor have I ever seen anything to suggest that.”

Morgan was scheduled to air an interview with actor Tom Arnold on Tuesday night’s show.




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