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News of the World: News Corp., competitors may as well be covering different scandals

July 8, 2011 |  6:52 pm

The phone-hacking scandal plaguing News Corp. and its soon-to-be-shuttered tabloid News of the World  has riveted the media in recent days. But some in the media have been more riveted than others.

Those who have been following the crisis as it has unfolded -- Andy Coulson, a former aide to British Prime Minister David Cameron and former News of the World editor, was arrested Friday -- have seen two very different portraits emerge.

Normally, this is the kind of story that a Rupert Murdoch tabloid would salivate over. Alas, in this case the controversy has provided a veritable feast for Murdoch's competitors, who see the scandal as representing all that's wrong with Murdoch's media empire. At News Corp. outlets, however, the crisis is being treated as a run-of-the-mill business story, if even that.

The home page of the New York Times website has been all over the story. For the Times, which has faced increased competition for supremacy in New York from Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, the debacle has given it plenty of ammunition to attack a rival.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, and News Corp.'s New York Post have been treating the story as more matter of fact and without the intense scrutiny that the coverage has gotten elsewhere.

On television the divide has been even greater.

At MSNBC, the liberal-oriented cable channel that has been in a pitched ideological battle with Fox News, numerous segments have been devoted in the last several days to the News of the World scandal, including a piece Thursday night teased as "Murdoch's mess."

Fox News? It stayed mainly silent on the News of the World scandal during prime time Thursday, largely filling its roster of shows with discussions about topics such as the Casey Anthony sentencing and the federal budget.

-- Steven Zeitchik