The last time The Wall Street Journal leapt to its publisher’s defence it was howled down by critics. The paper was crucified for its July 18, 2011 editorial — a nod to outgoing CEO Les Hinton, quoting his resignation letter in which he stated he knew nothing about wide-scale hacking and had testified truthfully to Parliament, and emphatically backing their outgoing boss with the line, “We have no reason to doubt him, especially based on our own experience working for him.”

They answered their detractors with an op-ed from the Journal‘s editorial features editor Robert Pollock the next day insisting on the paper’s editorial independence, whose argument could be boiled down to “if you want an example of editorial independence at News Corp, look at how often The Simpsons mock their broadcasters at Fox.”

They may have been burnt, but they’re back this week with a rather defensive editorial taking umbrage at six members of the 11 member Commons culture, media and sport committee’s suggestion that Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.” (A line that five members took umbrage at.)

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According to the editorial: “It’s hard to imagine a clearer case of politically pressuring a regulator to push out an unpopular owner.” Things getting murky here? Just a little.

But the kicker’s buried in the final line:

“We don’t pretend to know how the hacking scandal will finally play out, but the last outcome anyone should want is that it becomes a pretext for the political class in Britain, or the US, to decide who is fit or unfit to cover the political class.”

The key phrase here?: “… or the US …”

Do the editorial writers at the WSJ know something we don’t? Seems the US side of operations are beginning to get decidedly nervous …

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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