ABC Turns to the Photoshopping, GOP-Smearing Tina Brown as an Expert on the 'Amorality' of Murdoch

Newsweek editor Tina Brown, who last week smeared the Republican Party as "suicide bombers," was featured as a guest on Tuesday's Good Morning America to slam the "amorality" of Rupert Murdoch. Brown appeared to discuss the News of the World scandal and the ethics of the media mogul.

Talking to host Robin Roberts, the editor attacked, "But at the same [Murdoch] has no, you know, ethics in the company." Brown, who in addition to running Newsweek, also oversees the Daily Beast, showed up on MSNBC's Morning Joe last week to trash Republicans who oppose raising the debt limit: "I think they’re the suicide bombers in all of this."

Roberts never asked Brown about the remark or whether she is in a position to make ethical judgments. Instead, she quoted the journalist insisting that Murdoch's "brilliance" is equal only to his "amorality."

Regarding the issue of morality, Newsweek is the same magazine that on July 04 concocted a fake cover of Princess Diana, imagining what the deceased Briton would have been like at age 50. The publication featured a photoshopped image of Diana and Kate Middleton together. 

On Tuesday, Roberts asked Brown about a comparison by Newsweek's Carl Bernstein linking the phone hacking of the Murdoch scandal to Watergate: "And this comparison in Newsweek with Carl Bernstein's article saying that Murdoch is, in essence, Nixon as he was to Watergate. What are the similarities here that you are trying to make?"

Brown seemed to undermine the ex-Washington Post reporter's argument: "Well, we don't really know. The truth of the matter is, at the moment, that it is not said that Rupert Murdoch knew anything going on inside his newspapers."

(She then claimed that Bernstein's point spoke to the broader culture of Murdoch's paper.)

A transcript of the July 12 segment, which aired at 7:14am EDT, follows:


ROBERTS: Because joining us now is Tina Brown, editor in chief of the Daily Beast and Newsweek which has a story this week comparing the scandal to Watergate, which I want to ask you about in just a moment, Tina. But, couldn't help but notice your article yesterday in the Daily Beast yesterday. I mean,  we're talking about politicians, the Royal Family. How far could this go? How big could this get?

TINA BROWN: Well, it's a contagion that has spread throughout, not just the News of the World, but clearly now the other newspapers too. And in the end, I think that when you loosen all kind of moral controls, the place just ran amok with ths criminal behavior and it's a terrifying thing, because people have been afraid. They've been very afraid of speaking up.

ROBERTS: Why?

BROWN: Well, the cops, who were investigating it were told they had stuff about their affairs and their expenses so backed off. Politicians don't want to take it on because they thought they would get their expose about their private lives in these papers. So, in a sense, it's been a kind of blackmail racket for public life.

ROBERTS: It really has. And you had very strong words in your article yesterday, and you also had full disclosure that your husband, Harold, worked for a time at the Times under-

BROWN: Absolutely. He was editor of the Sunday Times and he fell out with Murdoch over political coverage and wrote a book about it, yesterday.

ROBERTS: I want to read a quote from your article yesterday. You said, "Murdoch is endlessly fascinating to watch because his talents and brilliance are equal only by his-"

BROWN: Amorality. Yes. Absolutely. Well, this is true. I mean, think about Rupert Murdoch, because he is a brilliant media boss. He has vision. He has nerve.  You know, he broke the unions in London who were derailing newspapers by his actions of great courage, actually in deciding to deal with that situation. But at the same he has no, you know, ethics in the company. So in the end, in terms of the press coverage, so at the end of the day, you know, the coverage just becomes, you know, as we've soon in this whole disastrous debacle, really.

ROBERTS: And this comparison in Newsweek with Carl Bernstein's article saying that Murdoch is, in essence, Nixon as he was to Watergate. What are the similarities here that you are trying to make?

BROWN: Well, we don't really know. The truth of the matter is, at the moment, that it is not said that Rupert Murdoch knew anything going on inside his newspapers. But at the same time, I think that what Carl Bernstein's point is that when you create a culture of looseness, in terms of the moral approach to stories, ultimately the place goes haywire and that's what actually happened. I mean, no one is saying, so far, that Rupert Murdoch himself knew the phone hacking things were going on. But, as we can see, it was so widespread, it was industrial strength. It wasn't just a few lone reporters. It was the de facto position, in a sense, of people who couldn't get a story, which is just like hacking into the phones. As we saw with Gordon Brown, you know, the son's five year old medical records. How could that be in the public interest to tell people that this little child had Cystic Fibrosis.  I mean, that was a grotesque invasion.

ROBERTS: It surely was. A lot of people were outraged by that. Tina, thank you as always.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org