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It Was in the ‘Kyiv Post’

In response to:

How the Murdoch Gang Got Away from the January 8, 2015 issue

To the Editors:

In his review of a book about the phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloids [“How the Murdoch Gang Got Away,” NYR, January 8], Geoffrey Wheatcroft mentions two former News of the World journalists—one convicted of and the other accused of shameful behavior—and notes, without explaining its relevance, that they are “both of Ukrainian origin.” I doubt he would have made a point of identifying their ethnic origins if those had been, say, Belgian or Canadian. Why is ethnic origin pertinent in this case? There are quite a few British journalists of Ukrainian origin. Is Wheatcroft suggesting their particular ethnic background makes them untrustworthy?

Or perhaps Wheatcroft was contrasting the disgraceful behavior of two News of the World scribblers with the highly professional, principled, and courageous reporting of Ukrainian journalists in Ukraine, who for years risked death and imprisonment for exposing government tyranny and corruption and whose work played a pivotal role in their country’s pro-democracy revolution last year?

Askold Krushelnycky
Washington, D.C.

Geoffrey Wheatcroft replies:

Since Mr. Krushelnycky puts it like that, I would have certainly considered the fact that the two men were of immediate Belgian parentage worth mentioning, or Corsican or Costa Rican for that matter. It wasn’t a question of some remote “ethnic origins” that made them very unusual in a London newspaper office. Both had Ukrainian parents, Alex Marunchak had formerly worked as a Ukrainian interpreter for the Metropolitan Police, they spoke Ukrainian together, and their case was reported in the Kyiv Post, the democratic English-language journal in Kyiv or Kiev (“Three British Ukrainians Caught Up in Center of Murdoch Media Scandal,” Kyiv Post, July 22, 2011; the third was Greg Miskiw’s former girlfriend). That paper was presumably making no ethnic generalization but merely considered that, whatever its “relevance,” the men’s origin was of interest. So did I.