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The 5 Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week: March 2

Stocks in this article: NWS CCL BRK.B FNM.F BAC

5. Murdoch's Sun Stroke

Poor Rupert Murdoch. Just when the News Corp. (NWS) CEO thought his phone-hacking headaches were behind him, here comes The Sun.

A senior police officer said Monday that Murdoch's U.K. tabloid, The Sun, regularly paid off public officials in return for salacious stories. Sue Akers, a Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner, said that Sun journalists not only greased the palms of cops, but also military, health and other government bigwigs.

"There appears to have been a culture at The Sun of illegal payments, and systems have been created to facilitate such payments whilst hiding the identity of the officials receiving the money," said Akers, who offered an example of one official pocketing more than 80,000 pounds over several years.

Wow! All that Murdoch moolah just to keep your name on -- or perhaps off -- the front page? Talk about good work if you can get it.

And Murdoch probably believed he was getting back to business this weekend and finally moving past last summer's public shaming, which culminated with the closure of the News of the World. Alas, it was not to be. Akers released her unflattering report only a day after Murdoch proudly announced that The Sun's first-ever Sunday edition had sold more than 3 million copies.

Murdoch responded to Akers's bombshells by insisting that those corrupt practices "no longer exist at The Sun." His pleas, however, fell on deaf and disbelieving ears. And even Wednesday's news that Rupert's son James Murdoch is stepping down as executive chairman of News Corp.'s U.K. newspaper arm could not dull the impact of Akers's charges.

Ultimately, the Murdoch family was too little, too late.

Or as they say in the newspaper business: She scooped them.

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