The News of the World sent the New York Times a nasty letter over the Times' blockbuster expose on ethical breaches at the Rupert Murdoch-owned British tabloid. Their main argument: "Nyah Nyah, I know you are but what am I?"

The letter from News of the World managing editor Bill Akass is an excellent case study in grasping at straws. In it, he argues that the Times was itself unethical in its investigation of NOTW's breaches. (Among other things, the paper sanctioned widespread phone hacking and fostered a culture of journalistic recklessness.)

Akass argues that the Times' reporting was flawed because it relied heavily on disgruntled ex-staffers. He invokes disgraced Times journalist Jayson Blair more as a cheap shot than to make any real point.

I would ask you to consider, for example, what your reaction would be were Jayson Blair to make allegations now to a rival newspaper group about editorial practices and the culture at the New York Times

"Yeah, and our guys are like 10x bigger scumbags than Jayson Blair! How dare you trust our horrible journalists."

After a couple pages of other bullshit, Akass closes by appealing to the Times' ethics guidelines, which stress the importance of avoiding conflicts of interest.

What clearer conflict of interest is there than devoting such enormous resources over five months to investigating one of a rival group's newspapers and then seeking to publish unsubstantiated claims about that newspaper?

Right! Publishing negative things about a Murdoch paper automatically qualifies as a "conflict of interest" for any New York media outlet. In fact, all those racism scandals at the New York Post were actually an elaborate test set up by the benevolent king of Media Ethics, Rupert Murdoch: Who would sully their own name by reporting on a competitor? (Ditto, Murdoch's $1 million GOP payout.)

As Slate's Jack Schafer says, "This is a little like walking in on a guy shtupping your wife and having him lecture you on the evils of adultery. Akass has no case."

(You can read the whole letter at the Times' website)