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End of the world for Rupert Murdoch?

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We're looking at an era defining international scandal, folks.

You might want to pull up a lawn chair and bring some popcorn. This ain't beanbag and it won't end with the breathtakingly cynical stage craft over at New Of The World.

At this moment the Prime Minister of England James Cameron is embroiled in a literally horrifying scandal that stretches all the way to Wall Street.

This morning Andy Coulson, 43, a former senior aide to British Prime Minister David Cameron, was arrested in Britain over allegations that he knew about or was involved in phone hacking during his time as editor of the News of the World from 2003-2007. Of course police are also investigating whether he paid brides to police officers, too.

As allegations come pouring in that the News Of The World journalists hacked the voice mail of thousands of unsuspecting people - from child murder victims to the families of Britain's war dead - the toxic tabloid hemorrhaged advertising, alienated millions of its own devoted readers and (most important of all) posed a growing threat to Rupert Murdoch's fondest hopes of buying the massive Euro broadcaster BSkyB.

How do we know Murdoch's bid is now in trouble? Because this morning BSkyB stock wavered dramatically as the scandal grows legs, embroiling even the Prime Minister of England.

It must be giving Murdoch palpitations. BSkyB is worth 8 billion in revenue, a billion in profit. How he must be hoping that the stain on one of his brands does not spread to them all. But how likely is it that this story will simply go away? And how likely is it not that the deal can go ahead under dark clouds of growing suspicion?

Here in the US Fox News, the conservative news channel reportedly first envisioned in the age of Richard Nixon, has balked at covering the scandal that's of the kind that would have been very familiar to its Nixon's operatives. For weeks Fox plastered Anthony Weiner's face all over the network, and The New York Post could not get enough of the disgraced rep, though - strange to relate - the News of The World Story is this week very hard to find on their channel and pages.

But public revulsion at the horrifying revelations is real and profound. Hacking into the phones of the vulnerable and brokenhearted families of murder victims and war veterans is as immoral an act as could ever be countenanced.

So this won't be contained with razzle dazzle, it won't just blow away with tomorrow's headlines: the anger is real and enduring. It's unlikely to be assuaged by cheap theatrics like the News Of The World's closure (there were rumors that this had been on the cards beforehand).

It's hard to imagine, now that he's been tarnished by association with one of Murdoch's men, that David Cameron will now have an appetite for the deal, given the new political calculus.

Meanwhile, we have just been given an object lesson concerning what the power of the press can look like in the hands of one all-powerful international mogul. It's just a shame it took this long.

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