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Hacking Trial: 'Intolerably Smug' Sun Gets It On Twitter For Self-Congratulatory Front Page

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Britain was greeted with a political rainbow of front pages Wednesday, with the hacking trial dominating the media. But one paper in particular has faced a fierce backlash over its "intolerably smug" coverage.

In a dramatic ending to a months-long trial, jurors tasked with deciding whether or not to convict several top former members of Rupert Murdoch's media empire on phone hacking charges reached a split decision on Monday.

Andy Coulson— the former editor of the News of the World who also served as Prime Minister David Cameron's chief spin doctor— is guilty, while Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Murdoch's British newspaper holdings, was cleared of all charges.

With Brooks cleared but Coulson convicted, Wednesday's coverage by the UK's papers was remarkably polarised.

Murdoch's Sun faced a furious backlash after boasting of a "Great Day For The Red Tops" - with many arguing the publication had choosen to erase Coulson's crimes from history.

  • The Sun
    Britain's biggest paper saw the acquittal of Brooks as "a triumph for British justice" but it neglected to add that the conviction of Coulson was a triumph. The paper instead slammed the "weakness" of the Crown Prosecution Service's case.

Many took to Twitter in response to The Sun's "shameless" coverage:

The majority of the British press decided instead to focus on David Cameron's judgement to hire Coulson as a spin doctor – a decision Ed Miliband slammed, saying the prime minister "brought a criminal into the heart of Downing Street".

The Telegraph and The Times also played down Coulson's guilt to instead focus on Brooks walking free.

  • The Daily Telegraph
    The Telegraph focused on Brooks' innocence and featured an editorial headlined "Scandal that could not scupper press freedom" that highlighted how the paper opposes a statute-based press regulator.
  • The Times
    In an editorial piece, The Times got straight to the point: "The acquittal of Rebekah Brooks on charges of phone hacking shows that a rush to implement a draconian regime to curb a free press was a disaster," it read.

Media commentator Roy Greenslade said the different approaches "revealed the deeper ideological split among national newspaper owners and editors."

"This was particularly evident in the editorials and commentaries," he said. "The celebrators viewed the declaration of Brooks's innocence as some kind of proof that the official reaction to hacking had been ill-judged."

  • The Guardian
    The Guardian focused on the fact the prime minister ignored warnings of Coulson's links to criminal activity - enthusiastically highlighted in Stephen Glover's comment piece entitled "The most foolish blunder of Cameron's career".
  • Daily Mail
    The Mail also raised questions on the PM's judgment and attacked the "hypocritical" stars involved in the Leveson trial and "the futility" of the inquiry.
  • Financial Times
    Like many papers, the Financial Times raised questions about what the trial meant for the future of the British media... no solid conclusions have been drawn, only "fruitless negotiations."
  • Daily Mirror
    The Mirror went with an alternative splash...
  • The Independent
    The Independent ran an lengthy 12 pages on the trial, including a biting comment piece by Andreas Whittam Smith in which he argued that "Rupert Murdoch should bear some responsibility for the crimes that the phone-hacking trial uncovered."
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