Scandal

So Britain's best-selling Sunday newspaper has gone, and two of Scotland Yard's more senior policemen have gone, and the reputation of the British police and the British press, which to be honest did not amount to very much in the first place, has gone ... to rock bottom. And the great British phone hacking scandal has destroyed one other thing too ... the image of Rupert Murdoch. He was, to his opponents in this country, the ruler of the Evil Empire, the most powerful media mogul in the world, a man who could destroy governments with one tug on the reins with which he controlled his newspapers and television stations. But what we saw when Mr. Murdoch was hauled before the British Parliament earlier this week was a doddery old man who had to lean on his son for guidance, a man happy to say sorry but apparently unable to answer any detailed questions about the hacking affair, a man battered not just by our Parliamentarians but by a member of the public who managed to thrust what we call a custard pie into his face. It made the job of our headline writers a simple one -- 'Murdoch eats humble pie'. But this scandal has just been the latest in a series of scandals here that have confirmed the prejudices of those who say this country is finished. So many of our great institutions have suffered in recent years. Parliament was shown to have been full of dodgy greedy legislators who cheated on their expenses. Our bankers brought the economy down. And now our newspapers have been caught breaking the law, while they were busy lecturing the rest of us on our bad behaviour. So the popular cynical view here -- that corruption underlies all our leading institutions -- is sadly reinforced by all these recent scandals. Our Prime Minister David Cameron has suffered too, because of his decision to bring a former Murdoch editor into the heart of his Downing Street operation -- against the advice of many of those around him. The chances are that Mr. Cameron will ride out the storm, but his greater task is to persuade the voters that there is now anyone in power who can still be trusted. This is Peter Allen for CBS News in London.

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