Divulging her text message correspondence with Prime Minister David Cameron, Brooks revealed that she had corrected his rookie error of signing off messages “LOL,” thinking it meant “lots of love,” rather than “laugh out loud.” This detail speaks volumes to the unhealthy soft power relationship politicians enjoy with News International.

The lines in those relationships between personal and business transactions are so blurred as to often seem nonexistent; Brooks could, in the same testimony, profess that she “never once forgot that she was a journalist” and then recount a conversation she had over dinner with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne lobbying him to approve the BSkyB share buy-back deal on behalf of her employer. For any aspiring journalist, these cool contradictions should be required reading.

It might be that Rebekah Brooks “never forgot” that she was a journalist. But she may need reminding that, for a good journalist, professional distance from sources is a key requirement.

Emily Bell is director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a member of CJR's Board of Overseers.