Steve Coogan Rips News Of The World, Former Editor Paul McMullan (VIDEO)

Comedian Steve Coogan tore into a former editor of the News of the World on Friday, in a rant that boosted the BBC's ratings and drew wide attention.

Coogan's fiery comments aired on the BBC's "Newsnight" program. He was speaking to Paul McMullan, a former features editor at the News of the World, which is ending its 168-year run on Sunday due to the phone hacking scandal.

McMullan actually defended the practice--something almost nobody has done.

"I've always said that I've tried to write articles in a truthful way, and what better source of getting the truth is to listen to someone's messages?" he said.

Coogan, who was himself a victim of phone hacking, jumped right in.

"I think you're a walking P.R. disaster for the tabloids," he said. "You come across as a sort of risible individual who is symptomatic of everything that's wrong with the tabloids ... you're just trying to find out who's sleeping with who."

McMullan tried to defend himself, saying that he feared a law that squelched press freedom and prevented papers from being able to "catch politicans lying and cheating."

"I'm not a politican," Coogan shouted back. "Why go after me? Milly Dowler's relatives are not politicians. Why go after them. It's morally bankrupt, and you're morally bankrupt ... it's absolute B.S."

The episode drew the highest ratings of the year for "Newsnight." McMullan, who left the paper in 2001, was also lambasted by current NoTW writers on Twitter.