Ethics vs. the law at News Corp.

News Corporation top executives Rupert and James Murdoch have testified before a Parliamentary committee in England that’s investigating allegations that the company knowingly hired private investigators who illegally hacked into cell phone voicemail accounts of kidnapping and terrorism victims.

What struck me most about the comments of the Murdochs were how little differentiation they made between ethical and legal conduct.  Maybe that’s not surprising, given the tabloid papers they own and the methods historically employed by those publications to cultivate their sources.  However, it further muddies our public debate over ethics.

We heard similar arguments by Wall Street during the mortgage crisis, as the subject of ethical behavior was missing in favor of “we didn’t do anything illegal” defenses.

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