News Corp. Did Not Do the Horrible Thing It Basically Admitted Doing

Whoops! Remember when Rupert Murdoch's News of the World was revealed to have illegally listened to the voicemails of teen murder victim Milly Dowler? And how the bastards actually erased the voicemails, leading Dowler's family to falsely believe that their little girl was still alive and checking her messages? And how Murdoch killed off NOTW in shame and a panicked attempt to avert scandal when it all came out? Well, there's a slight wrinkle.

They didn't actually erase the emails. Testifying before an judicial inquiry into British tabloids yesterday, a lawyer for the Metropolitan Police claimed that—contrary to the Guardian's blockbuster story last summer, which sparked the conflagration that became Hackgate— Dowler's voicemails were likely erased automatically by her cellphone provider, as opposed to ruthless NOTW reporters. The original Guardian report, which didn't attribute the allegation to any sources but merely asserted that the voicemails were deleted by NOTW reporters, accused Murdoch's reporters of confusing investigators and "potentially destroy[ing] valuable evidence."

While the simple act of hacking alone was enough to cause outrage, it was the alleged deletion that inspired a frothy rage in Murdoch's detractors (including us). And Murdoch's drastic reaction of shutting the whole thing down was seen as a tacit admission that the worst was true.

Anyway, it's probably not true. Isn't it horrible when false newspaper stories have negative consequences, Rupert Murdoch?

[Image via Getty]