Who’s on first?!

Costello: Well then who’s on first?
Abbott: Yes.
Costello: I mean the fellow’s name.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The guy on first.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The first baseman.
Abbott: Who.
Costello: The guy playing…
Abbott: WHO is on first!
Costello: I’m asking YOU who’s on first.
Abbott: That’s the man’s name.
Costello: That’s who’s name?
Abbott: Yes!

Given the variety of scandals in the news lately, it’s hard to know exactly who’s doing what to whom without a scorecard. But I’ll try.

On first we have Roger Clemens who’s facing perjury charges that he lied to Congress in 2008 about steroid use.

Second base is engaged in the massive case of school cheating in Atlanta. The Associated Press reported in the Washington Post that “human resources chief Millicent Few resigned Monday night…. State investigators say Few illegally ordered the destruction or alteration of documents to downplay reports of cheating in the 50,000-student district.”

Few is but one “among 178 Atlanta schools educators named in a voluminous state report who are accused of either cheating or allowing cheating. The probe found cheating in nearly half of the district’s 100 schools since 2001, affecting tens of thousands of children.”

Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that among those reported to have been involved is former Superintendent Beverly L. Hall, who allegedly hid, altered or manipulated school documents. Hall was named 2009 National Superintendent of the Year.

In the “hot corner” (or hot seat) on third is media baron Rupert Murdoch who’s 168-year-old News of the World London tabloid closed its doors after it was discovered that several individuals working for the paper had paid police officials for the private numbers of the Royal family and others in order to hack their phones for juicy stories.

But the close of London’s longest running tabloid is far from the end of the scandal and could mean criminal charges for a number of executives at the top of the Murdoch food chain.

In an effort to protect their interests, the New York Timesreports, the paper was blackmailing certain police officers. “Shortly after Scotland Yard began its initial criminal inquiry of phone hacking by The News of the World in 2006, five senior police investigators discovered that their own cellphone messages had been targeted by the tabloid and had most likely been listened to.

“The disclosure,” the Times writes, “based on interviews with current and former officials, raises the question of whether senior investigators feared that if they aggressively investigated,The News of the World would punish them with splashy articles about their private lives. Some of their secrets, tabloid-ready, eventually emerged in other news outlets.

“Those damaging allegations, about two of the senior officers’ private lives, involved charges that one had padded his expense reports and was involved in extramarital affairs and that the other used frequent flier miles accrued on the job for personal vacations. The lead police investigator on the phone-hacking case, Andy Hayman, left the Metropolitan Police in December 2007 after questions were raised in the news media about business expenses he had filed and the nature of his relationship with a woman who worked for the Independent Police Complaints Commission.”

And it doesn’t end there.

Murdoch’s papers reportedly targeted former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. “Nick Davies and David Leigh of [rival newspaper] The Guardian reported that journalists from bothThe Sunday Times of London and The Sun ‘repeatedly targeted the former prime minister Gordon Brown, attempting to access his voice mail and obtaining information from his bank account, his legal file as well as his family’s medical records.’”

Does the closing of the most profitable paper in the Murdoch chain let the mogul off the hook? Sadly, we may be looking at only the tip of this iceberg.

While I typically focus on domestic scandals, the Murdoch hacking case carries implications to our press. Most immediate: which U.S. officials or citizen’s phones were hacked by Murdoch reporters. The long run: news directors will need to re-examine the issue of just how far they’re willing to go to get a story.

One thing all three stories have in common is another example of doing whatever it takes to win.

In honor of the 2011 All-Star game, here’s a clip from the most famous comedy routine about baseball.

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