As a newspaper editor who has commanded troops on both sides of New York’s pungent tabloid wars, Colin Myler has always shown a thirst for the eye-popping story and a willingness to take the heat to run something that will sell, sell, sell.
In the four months since he became editor of New York’s Daily News, Myler, 59, has made it clear that he identifies with the sensibilities of the common person.
When a jury was unable to reach a full verdict in the trial of a police officer charged with raping a schoolteacher, the News’ front-page headline screamed: “What does a woman have to do to prove she was raped?”
The headline for another cover story, on teachers accused of unseemly conduct with students, read: “FIRE ’EM! Exposed: Perv teachers still on payroll.”
However, every now and then in his rollicking journalistic adventures, Myler has become the story, or at least an integral part of it — and that became the case again on Tuesday when he found himself a prime target of a British parliamentary panel’s report on the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers.
The panel concluded that Myler had misled them about his knowledge of the illegal behavior, which puts him at risk of being cited for contempt of the British parliament.
Myler took over as editor of News of the World in 2007, when the phone-hacking scandal was just beginning to rattle the paper, and he was still editor when Murdoch closed the London tabloid last summer.
Myler declined to comment beyond a prepared statement saying he stood by his testimony and expected to be exonerated.
Mortimer Zuckerman, the owner of the Daily News, said in an interview on Tuesday that he had “total confidence” in Myler and indicated that subsequent information would clear him.
“It’s not the only report that will be out,” Zuckerman said, refusing to be more specific.
How to cover the report was a ticklish question for Myler. The panel also concluded that Murdoch was “not fit” to run his company, something that would ordinarily be delicious fodder for the Daily News. However, with Myler caught up in the story, nothing was published on the News’ Web site on Tuesday.
Myler’s career has taken him back and forth across the Atlantic. He was born in Liverpool in the UK and, without a college degree, entered journalism at the Catholic Pictorial news agency. Soon he became a Fleet Street reporter at the Sun and then at the Daily Mail. By 1992, he was editor of the Sunday Mirror and later the Daily Mirror.
Those who have worked with Myler described him as an ultra-competitive newsman.
In 1993, he caused national agitation when he published pictures in the Sunday Mirror of Princess Diana working out at a gym. The photographs had been bought from a London gym owner who took them with hidden cameras.
Myler left journalism briefly to become head of a marketing organization for a rugby league. He then reprised his role as editor of the Sunday Mirror, until a dicey story ended his run.
In April 2001, he published an article that raised racism as a potential motive of two soccer players then being tried on charges of attacking a Pakistani fan. The judge ruled that the article had poisoned the trial and ordered a retrial. Myler resigned three days later and the paper was fined for contempt of court.
Some thought Myler’s journalism career was over, but Murdoch had other ideas. In short order, he hired Myler as one of the top editors at the New York Post. He was not in charge, but he was back chasing news.