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By Staff | Jul 29, 2011

Rupert Murdoch came before a House of Commons committee investigating the misdeeds of his company’s British newspapers with his heart on his sleeve. He called the day of his testimony, July 19, “the most humble day of my life.”

Humbling or not, he left the hearing unbowed.

Murdoch’s explanation of what his firm’s reporters and editors did in pursuit of flashy, trashy stories was disjointed and disingenuous. Moreover, he was defiant. “No,” was his one-word answer to the question of whether he, the boss, was responsible for any of the disreputable actions of News Corporation.

That he reached the ripe age of 80 before experiencing his most humiliating day is both lucky and pathetic. Lucky in that he reached 80 before having it; pathetic in that he reached 80 before having to finally answer for the smut, smears and slop he’s profitably peddled on three continents for over five decades.

His Teflon came mostly from the sensational dirt his company’s newspapers dug up or bought, then dished, on enemies. Little wonder British prime ministers kissed his pinky ring and lined up to hire his staffers. They were buying protection from Murdoch’s Fleet Street bullies, not professionalism.

They got protection, alright and bushels of rotten baloney.

No one in American journalism should get too smug over Murdoch’s mess. We’ve published our share of stink bombs.

The ongoing, orchestrated smear of J. Dudley Butler, administrator of USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.

From the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to Senate and House hearing rooms on Capitol Hill, nearly every reference to Butler and his agency’s proposals to update GIPSA’s rules contains a flat lie – that on Aug. 7, 2009, Butler publicly proclaimed a rule that would not be published in the Federal Register until June 22, 2010.

How did Butler pull off that incredible feat of clairvoyance – offer commentary on a rule that was more than 10 months from birth?

NCBA, giant meatpackers, and lawmakers have never said.

But that hasn’t stopped the lie from being embellished and repeated in public and in print. Proof won’t slay the lie and its peddlers. Like baloney, they add just enough real meat to make it appealing.

Anyway you slice it, though, it’s still pure baloney.

The Farm and Food File is published weekly in more than 70 newspapers in North America. Contact Alan Guebert at www.farmandfoodfile.com.

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