The journalistic orthodoxy requests that I type that "it's always the cover-up that gets you," the suggestion being that it's always better to get the scandal out in front, confess, and cut your losses. But I won't. It's my hunch that the scandal would have been equally devastating to the Murdoch empire had it not commenced its sloppy cover-up of lies, settlements, and other payouts when the original phone hacking of the "royal" staff broke in 2006. Back in 2006, so much of the phone-hacking evidence was still green and the damage done to victims still fresh.
Just think about how close the genocidal tyrant and his staff came to getting away with it. If not for Nick Davies and reinforcements from the New York Times, the News of the World would still be alive, Rupert Murdoch would have purchased the remainder of BSkyB, and instead of being measured by his tailor for convict stripes James Murdoch would be selecting carpet and drapes for his new News Corp. CEO office.
Worthy commentaries on today's phone-hacking story: Brian Cathcart, Ryan Chittum, Michael Calderone, and others. I especially enjoyed ProPublica's comparison of News International's redaction of the Goodman letter with that of Parliament. Send letters to email@example.com and watch my Twitter feed for redactions. (Email may be quoted by name in "The Fray," Slate's readers' forum; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)
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Correction, Aug. 17, 2011: This article originally left an adverb out from the quote of Rupert Murdoch. (Return to corrected sentence.)