WASHINGTON — Hustler founder Larry Flynt blasted News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch over the recent News of the World phone hacking scandal in a Washington Post op-ed piece.
Although Flynt said that he and Murdoch share free speech values, he took Murdoch to task concerning how they each push the boundaries.
“I test limits by publishing controversial material and paying people who are willing to step forward and expose political hypocrisy. Murdoch’s minions, on the other hand, pushed limits by allegedly engaging in unethical or criminal activity: phone hacking, bribery, coercing criminal behavior and betraying the trust of their readership,” Flynt wrote.
The Hustler boss went on to compare News Corp. publications to Hustler magazine noting that no matter how distasteful some people find his publication, no one has appeared unwittingly in its pages. “I do not create sensationalism at the expense of people living private lives,” Flynt said.
The piece blasted Murdoch for getting information regardless of the methods, citing unscrupulous actions like hiring a known criminal to obtain private information on former British prime minister Gordon Brown when his son was diagnosed as having cystic fibrosis, hackng into 9/11 attack victims’ phones and paying paid police officers for illegal dirt about the queen.
Flynt said the heads of publishing conglomerates have a responsibility to maintain the respect of individuals’ privacy. “If News Corp.’s reported wrongdoings are true, what Murdoch’s company has been up to does not just brush against boundaries — it blows right past them.”
Exposing holier-than-thou politicians has been a hallmark of Hustler’s brand of journalism and Flynt did not apologize for his magazine’s stance.
“Yes, I have offered money to those willing to expose hypocritical politicians — one of those offers, in 1998, resulted in the resignation of Bob Livingston, a Republican congressman from Louisiana who voted to impeach President Bill Clinton despite his own extramarital affairs. I focus not on those who are innocent, but rather on those who practice the opposite of what they very publicly preach. This may be considered an extreme or controversial practice in getting a story, but it is far from criminal.”
Flynt also took on Google and Facebook as hijacking personal rights to privacy. He said the general public doesn’t realize that the social networking and search engine giants are data mines that sell information and that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has actually stated that he doesn’t believe in privacy.
Flynt called on the government to get back to its roots by protecting the privacy of its citizens while encouraging individual freedoms.
“Freedom of the press and the right to privacy do not have to be combatants. The people have tasked members of the news media with the duty and the responsibility to provide information. As publishers, we must find the boundary, push it, but refuse to cross it — never selling out our readers and never publishing what we cannot verify.”