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Sunday Times’ concocted Snowden story: Journalism at its worst

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It seems extraordinary that a man like Rupert Murdoch can make a fortune by hiring shonkey reporters and exploiting modern journalism by using outright lies and distorted information, writes Rodney E Lever.

IN MY DAY, the first thing young reporters were told was that they should present their stories accurately and truthfully. "Check, re-check and check again," was the first thing I learned as a raw reporter way back in the 1940s.

Now truth and accuracy seems to have nothing to with journalism. I'm talking about the news today, not only in the Murdoch papers, but including such Australian papers as the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Rupert Murdoch's own father supported the dignity and the importance of honest and truthful reporting, except where politics was concerned.

England's Sunday Times has just committed the most outrageous and baseless account of a false story that has been peddled around the world in recent days. 

It started last Sunday with anonymous sources claiming that Russia and China had been supplied with information supplied by the American whistleblower, Edward Snowden, now working in Russia.

In a story that seems to have been fabricated entirely from someone's imagination, Snowden is falsely blamed for supplying Russia and China with stolen documents, described as a ‘top secret cache of 100,000 encrypted files.’

The story refers to British government officials naming Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda as having stolen 58,000 highly classified intelligence documents supplied to them by Edward Snowden.

The whole story was a fabrication, an invention of a reporter at Murdoch's Sunday Times newspaper. None of the facts have stood the test of other journalists from other newspapers who investigated.

The Sunday Times has now admitted that there were "errors" in the report. In fact, the whole matter was an invention; but The Sunday Times printed it anyway and so did Britain's Daily Mail, snatching the story from The Sunday Times, but quickly removing it from its own pages when it was disclosed as an imaginative frolic in journalistic invention.

In the meantime, Murdoch's New York Post was in trouble with another false story about an innocent woman who was named as a "hooker" who had a personal acquaintance with the notorious and disgraced French womanizer, Dominique Strauss Kahn

The New York Post has achieved a reputation for printing wild and scandalous reporting, which always turns out to have been invented.

In the UK, Murdoch's name is already poison with even the Tory government turning shy about his desire to take over full control of the publicly-owned BSkyB (now rebranded Sky) television service. 

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