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Fox kills Alec Baldwin's Emmys phone-hacking joke

The "30 Rock" actor asks for his taped introduction at the Emmys to be cut after Fox deletes a joke about the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. He suggests the joke would have made News Corp look better. A little.

I had hoped that, after Ricky Gervais said whatever he felt like at the 2010 Golden Globes, award show hosts could joke about anything.

It appears not.

After a revelation by Deadline, "30 Rock" actor Alec Baldwin tweeted today that Fox (aka News Corp) had, indeed, removed a little joke that he had created with the writers specially for the occasion.

No, it wasn't a joke about Tom Cruise's height, James Franco's presentational skills, or Brad Pitt's exciting personal life.

It was a joke about the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. You might remember that the U.K.'s most wonderful newspaper was shut down after it admitted to something of a digital spree of intrusion into the messages of not only the rich and famous, but also murder victims.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The joke had been taped and was to be part of the opening. According to the Associated Press, Fox decided that it wasn't quite appropriate, as News Corp took the scandal very, very seriously.

Surely no one had ever doubted how seriously the company took it.

However, Baldwin tweeted a differing perspective: "Fox did kill my NewsCorp hacking joke. Which sucks bc I think it would have made them look better. A little."

Somehow, you might imagine a little self-deprecating humor rarely comes amiss. Especially as it would have come from one of NBC's stars, rather than Fox's.

Subsequently, Baldwin offered a tweet that seemed conciliatory: "I understand NewsCorp killing that joke." It was conciliatory until his next tweet, but seconds later: "If I were enmeshed in a scandal where I hacked phones of families of innocent crime victims purely 4 profit, I'd want that 2 go away, 2."

Baldwin asked Fox to remove his NewsCorp joke-free segment, which the network logically reshot with Leonard Nimoy. No one seems to have revealed (yet) what the joke actually was, other than it reportedly contained a mention of Rupert Murdoch.

But Rupert Murdoch has a great sense of humor. Doesn't he?

(Update very hot off the twittering presses: The New York Times' Brian Stelter just tweeted this: "In the skit, @AlecBaldwin is on the phone w/ an unnamed colleague. He pauses & says, "Rupert? Is that you? I hear you breathing, Rupert!")