Following the arrest of two New of the World journalists involved in a phone-hacking scandal, the British tabloid's parent company News International has apologized for illegally obtaining the voice mail recordings of celebrities and athletes. The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper has acknowledged liability in eight civil cases on a plaintiff list including actress Sienna Miller, sports commentator Andy Gray, British politician Tessa Jowell and interior designer Kelly Hoppen. The scandal has hounded the News of the World since 2005, when the racy tabloid hired a private investigator to hack into the voicemail recordings of a number of high-profile figures. Today marks the paper's first "major mea culpa" in the five-year saga, notes The Wall Street Journal. According to the BBC the paper hopes to shell out less than £20 million to the victims.
The admission marks a new low for a downmarket tabloid best known to U.S. readers for exposing Michael Phelps's bong-hitting. "Occasionally, someone manages to open up a new tier of bad journalism, one that not even Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass could even imagine," writes Ernie Smith at Short Form Blog. "The scandal has already cost a member of David Cameron’s staff his job, and now News of the World is finally admitting their reporters screwed up. Stephen Glass looks professional in comparison."