Publicist Max Clifford has told MPs that the UK has the "most savage media in the world".
Max Clifford: 'Public gets nothing'
And he argued that the body supposed to ensure standards in newspapers - the Press Complaints Commission - was a "waste of time".
But Daily Mail editor and editor-in-chief of Associated
Newspapers, Paul Dacre, insisted the PCC was effective.
Both men were giving evidence to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee inquiry into privacy and media intrusion.
Mr Clifford said he wanted to see legal aid for libel cases so ordinary people could defend themselves against defamation by the media.
But he said he opposed privacy legislation and argued that the current PCC set-up was "jobs for the boys".
The protection for the rich and powerful is massive
He added: "The protection for the rich and powerful is massive, often far too
much - they get away with murder - but the public has got nothing."
Despite that, Mr Clifford argued a free press prevented people from "getting away with things".
Mr Dacre conceded that the press could occasionally get it wrong - but it still had enormous strengths and he said he wanted to be an advocate for the PCC, of which he is a member.
"If I have one job to do today it is to persuade you ladies and gentlemen, if
you are sceptical, that the press do take the PCC very seriously and it is in
the psyche on every level," he said.
Mr Dacre is editor of the Daily Mail
Mr Dacre argued strongly against a privacy law.
"I believe it
would destroy the PCC effectively, destroy the goodwill and the consensus which
are the primary engines of the PCC," he said.
"We are about people - you destroy the PCC, you will destroy the most
effective way of defending the ordinary people."