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Reuters Retracts Column Saying News Corp. Got Billions In Tax Refunds

Reuters just posted this:

"Please be advised that the David Cay Johnston column published on Tuesday stating that Rupert Murdoch's U.S.-based News Corp made money on income taxes is wrong and has been withdrawn. News Corp's filings show the company changed reporting conventions in its 2007 annual report when it reversed the way it showed positive and negative numbers. A new column correcting and explaining the error in more detail will be issued shortly."

That advisory is referring to this column (we can't guarantee how much longer that link will work).

On Morning Edition today, Johnston made the case that News Corp. had utilized "off shore [tax] havens" to report "a theoretical loss" — and that the company did not do anything illegal. Apparently, he did not factor in the change in the way the company reports its results.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is at the center of a media firestorm, of course, because of the scandal over information that some of its British news outlets allegedly illegally collected about thousands of people, from the royal family and prominent politicians to victims of the 9/11 attacks.

Update at 3:40 p.m. ET: NPR says that "Johnston is expected to appear on Morning Edition Thursday to offer further clarification. We will provide updates as they become available."

Update at 7:20 a.m. ET, July 14: Johnston said on Morning Edition today that there's no excuse for his "big screw-up," though he can explain how it happened. He has also posted a long apology and explanation on Reuters.com.

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