In London Saturday, Rupert Murdoch issued full-page apologies for the phone-hacking scandal that has hit his media empire. Critics say his free-wheeling and politically conservative approach may have affected US journalism at Fox News as well.
Fox News is owned by News Corp, however if you were watching the press this week, you would never know it. Even as a US investigation of the 9/11 phone hacking begins to pick up steam, the press is being super careful not to mention Fox News and News Corp in the same breath. More importantly, the press has not been asking the even more important questions concerning this expanding scandal – were employees of Fox New involved in phone hacking of 9/11 victims, and if they were, to what extent. Will we ever here these questions uttered in public or will the fear of New Corp in both the US press and the US government keep these questions bottled up?
The scandal already had crossed the Atlantic with news this week that the FBI is investigating whether victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States and their families were subject to phone hacking from Murdoch’s News Corp.
It’s been reported (although without proof) that a private investigator and former New York City police officer was offered payment for information about 9/11 victims.
“If these allegations are proven true,” Rep. Peter King (R) of New York, who chairs theHomeland Security Committee, wrote to FBI Director Robert Mueller, “the conduct would merit felony charges for attempting to violate various federal statutes related to corruption of public officials and prohibitions against wiretapping.”
“Given the large scope of Scotland Yard‘s investigation which reportedly includes a list of 3,870 names, 5,000 land-line phone numbers and 4,000 cell phone numbers that may have been hacked, I believe it is imperative to investigate whether victims in the United States have been affected as well,” Senator Menendez wrote to US Attorney General Eric Holder.
Source: Christian Science Monitor
The 9/11 phone hacking investigation: it’s Murdoch and Fox News who could be destroyed, not the Republicans (By Timothy Stanley – This is an excerpt of an article that appeared in The Telegraph. For the entire article. click HERE)
The News Corp phone-hacking scandal has gone global. The FBI has announced that it is launching an investigation into allegations that Rupert Murdoch’s corporation hacked into the mobile phones of 9/11 victims. If it’s true, it’s a moral outrage of huge proportions – a terrible insult to American honour. It would seriously damage Murdoch’s reputation in the US and reduce his very profitable share of the media market. But the political context is subtly different to the UK scandal, and that will shape the way it plays out. The comparison some are already making to Watergate is instructive in its inaccuracy. This hurts Murdoch, but not necessarily the Republican Party or conservative media in general.
Hacking into Milly Dowler’s phone was an attack on a single family. Hacking into the phones of the 9/11 victims is an assault on an entire nation. In America, the memory of the people who died on 9/11 is sacred. The invasion of their privacy not only violates wire-tapping laws but offends a much bigger, popular ethical sensibility. If it is proven true then the Murdoch brand will be irreparably harmed, and that means the collapse of an empire that reaches well beyond a seedy UK newspaper obsessed with sex and celebrity face lifts.
Part of the US empire is the irrepressible, valuable Fox News: the “fair and balanced” channel that has been sticking it to the American Left since 1996. In 2010 the network took the top 10 spots in the age 25–54 demographic and the top 12 spots among total viewers, and cable TV provides 60 per cent of News Corp’s overall profits. It’s big business, and politicians already sound determined to bring it down. For starters, Democratic Senators Frank Lautenberg and Barbara Boxer have called for Murdoch to be personally investigated under the terms of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for the crime of bribing English police. If found guilty, the old man could face up to $30 million in fines and 20 years in prison.
It’s tempting to presume that this is payback time for liberals sick of being called everything from Muslims to Communists by Fox News contributors for the past 15 years. Certainly, a guilty verdict would invert the Right-wing franchise’s patriotic image and probably boost the reputation and ratings of the rival MSNBC channel. News Corp gave a generation of young conservatives a platform, and that platform stands to be discredited. Obama will be pleased. His White House communications director once opinioned that, “Fox News often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party”.
But it is significant that the man leading the calls for an investigation is congressman Pete King: a conservative Republican who has enjoyed positive coverage by Fox in the past. Although some liberals and Europeans will try to paint this as a GOP scandal – hence the reference to Watergate, which brought down Republican Richard Nixon – the outrage at what News Corp did is bipartisan. American news outlets have a far greater sense of separation from the political elite of their country than there is in Britain. In the UK, both parties chased the endorsement of the News of the World. Prime Ministers of left and right invited its editors to cocktail parties and sleep-overs. Its power and importance was reflected in its disturbingly close relationship with the entire political establishment, including Brown and Cameron. That is what made it the British Watergate.
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WSJ and Fox defend Murdoch (Salon.com)
One of the most entertaining aspects of the ever-deepening News Corp hacking scandal is the way Rupert Murdoch’s legion of other media outlets have been scrambling to figure out how to cover the story. They can’t ignore it completely. But how can they pay lip service to the irrefutable newsworthiness of the tale while taking pains not to bite the Australian mogul hand that feeds them? In an extremely awkward manner, that’s how.
First, there was a stunning “Fox and Friends” segment Friday in which guest Robert Dilenschneider compared the News of the World’s scandal to a set of recent corporate security breaches. “It’s a hacking scandal; it can’t be denied,” he said. “Why are so many people are piling on at this point? Shouldn’t we get beyond it and really deal with the issue of hacking? Citicorp has been hacked into. Bank of America has been hacked into. American Express has been hacked into. We’ve got a serious hacking problem in this country.” To which host Steve Doocy replied, “This happened a long time ago. At a tabloid. In London. Somebody did something really bad and the company reacted… They’re piling on.” Apparently Fox News has a bit of trouble distinguishing its hackees from its hackers.
Now, in a Monday Wall Street Journal editorial on “News and Its Critics” that borders on brilliant satire, the Murdoch-owned paper rails on about how “our competitors are using the phone-hacking years ago at a British corner of News Corp. to assail the Journal, and perhaps injure press freedom in general.” That’s right, haters, when you criticize an organization that breaks into a murdered girl’s voicemails, and believes paying off cops and tampering with individual privacy is “part of the game,” you’re messing with the First Amendment itself. Though the editorial is unsigned, one can’t help noting its spiritual kinship with the persuasive rhetoric of that legendary debater, Eric “Otter” Stratton, who once noted, “The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules or took a few liberties… You can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few sick, perverted individuals… for isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society?”
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