2011’s Smartest Moments in Pop Culture


A Tabloid-worthy Tabloid Scandal

News of the World apologizes for phone hacking to no avail.
News of the World apologizes for phone hacking to no avail.

Although the roots of voicemail hacking at News of the World trace back to 2005, scandal exploded in June 2011 when British investigators confirmed that journalists at the publication had indeed tampered with people's private phone lines [source: CNN staff]. The tabloid officially apologized for hacking that occurred between 2004 and 2006, but it couldn't shake its new-found nefarious reputation, especially after its admission of hacking into and deleting messages from a murdered teenager's voicemail to trick her parents into thinking she was still alive. A month later, News of the World folded, and British police arrested Rebekah Brooks, former CEO of News International, the British arm of News Corporation, which also owns The Wall Street Journal. Brooks was taken in on allegations of her connection with the phone hacking scandal, as well as bribery to police officers.

The hammer also fell hard on one of the first families of media, the Murdochs. Rupert Murdoch is Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, and his son James Murdoch ran daily operations at News of the World while the phone hacking was going on. The Murdochs have testified before Parliamentary panels regarding their knowledge of or involvement in the wiretapping scandal; at one of the proceedings, a vigilante threw a cream pie in the elder Murdoch's face. The government has yet to press any charges against them, and News Corp. shareholders voted Murdoch and his two sons back to the company's board of directors in October [source: Kim]. Although some have questioned whether the influential family has been adequately held accountable for their possible roles in the scandal, the situation has nonetheless prompted the public to turn a more critical eye on the press. The take-down of Britain's largest tabloid will also undoubtedly go down as one of the most dramatic instances of the media being held accountable for unethical journalism.