Hugh Grant Slams News of the World

Monday, 11 Jul 2011 08:03 AM

By James Hirsen

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Hugh Grant views the end of Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid, News of the World, as a "watershed moment."

The now infamous newspaper was permanently shut down after reports surfaced that the paper's employees had hacked into voice mails of numerous high-profile individuals.

Among those listed to have had their private conversations monitored illegally include Prince William, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Also hackedv was the phone of a murdered 13-year-old girl, whose  body was eventually found.

"This is the watershed moment when, finally, the public starts to see and feel, above all, just how low and how disgusting this particular newspaper's methods were," Grant told CBS' "The Early Show." The actor referred to the story as an "enormous national scandal."

"The politicians will for sure try to push it into the long grass," Grant said. "They're going to say, We'll let the police do their inquiry and we won't have a proper, full public inquiry in the meantime. But that's what we need."

Grant is not a casual bystander with respect to the News of the World saga. He is actually one of the victims whose phone information was illegally accessed.

He is apparently dissatisfied with the focus being solely on News of the World and made the following prediction: "What will emerge shortly is that it wasn't just this newspaper."

"Pretty much all" U.K. tabloids "were keen phone hackers," Grant said.

In other Hollywood-tinged commentary, The New York Times has described Murdoch as "a Wizard of Oz-like figure, moving the levers of British politics." The political focus of the media coverage has been on current U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron.

Cameron has had the unfortunate circumstance of having brought in Andy Coulson as his communications director (the British equivalent of a U.S. press secretary), who also happens to be a former editor of News of the World.

In January, Coulson resigned due to the newspaper scandal. Coulson was recently arrested in connection with allegations of corruption and phone hacking.

Despite his conservative reputation, Murdoch's loyalties have actually changed over the years. The past five prime ministers of England have sought to be in Murdoch's good graces. In the mid-1990s, an ambitious Tony Blair flew to an island near the coast of Murdoch's home country of Australia to speak at the annual meeting of News Corp. The visit may have made an impression on Murdoch.

In 1997 News Corp began to back the Labor Party and Tony Blair, who ultimately won the election. The association persisted during Blair's 10 years as British prime minister, and the Times, the Sun and News of the World supported Blair's policies. The News Corp. papers then moved back to the conservative Tories, who ended up winning in 2010.

The phone hacking investigation has resulted in a gleeful assault by politicians and regulators who appear to be hopeful that they can bring down Murdoch's news empire and harm conservatives in England and America.

They may, however, find more than what they bargained for.

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court. Hirsen is the co-founder and chief legal counsel for Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood:

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