acanuck's picture


    Wow! If you care about the media, and specifically the dangers of media concentration, today's news that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is shutting down its News of the World is huge news. The fact I had to use the word "news" four times in a single sentence tells you just how huge.

    The scandal has been brewing in Britain since 2007, when a private detective hired by an employee was convicted of hacking into the private voice mail of cellphone users to gather material for stories. In the past week or so, the full extent of that hacking was finally revealed: thousands of people were targeted -- celebrities, politicians, members of the royal family, relatives of troops killed in battle, and crime victims. The latter category includes people killed in terrorist bombings and, most shockingly, a 13-year-old kidnapping victim whose voice mail was hacked -- and tampered with -- before her murdered body was found.

    If News Corp. had set out to offend the British sense of propriety, it couldn't have done a better job. The News of the World, which routinely sold 2.6 million copies each Sunday, was hit with a massive reader and advertiser boycott. James Murdoch, Rupert's son, heir apparent and deputy CEO of the British division, decided to cut his losses and kill the troubled brand.

    Murdoch's motive shouldn't be seen as totally principled and altruistic; most people expect the Sun, another News Corp. paper, to quickly launch a Sunday edition to fill News of the World's niche. Most also suspect the main motive is to save Murdoch's multibillion-dollar bid to acquire BSkyB, Britain's leading satellite carrier -- a bid that was facing strong opposition but that the Conservative cabinet had informally approved.

    Officially approval had been expected within weeks. With the latest revelations, the government has decided to put it off at least a couple of months. Expect popular and political opposition to grow exponentially in the meantime. 

    I wonder how Murdoch's Fox News is handling this story? Not enough to actually turn on Fox News, but I still wonder.


    Fox News isn't covering it. Careful, anyone who uses the words 'principled' or 'altruistic' in the same sentence with Rupert Murdoch might be due to have their head examined. Rupert Murdoch is the Tokyo Rose of the 21st century, he seems out to destroy western civilization with the dissemination of deceptions, drivel, distractions, division and disinformation.

    If they were tapping phone messages of dead 13 year olds, one wonders if there is any line a Murdoch publication would not cross, to make money, increase influence, or control police, politicians or a government.

    Maybe The Great Bill O'Reilly or Hannity will rise to the defense of Murdoch and his child phone hackers and dead troop snoopers.  Or perhaps Fox News Bernard Goldberg will propose a national monument in our capital for the child molester chasing, politician purchasing scum in what Murdoch calls his news organization.  Murdoch's empire is an organized crime conglomerate serving him and his rich associates and sycophants. It is not a source of information or enlightenment for the public.

    The amount of illegal bugging that went on probably does raise News Corp.'s actions to the level of "organized crime conglomerate," as you put it. A class action by those who were hacked could easily cost Murdoch's empire tens of millions of dollars. News Corp.'s shares lost 5 per cent of their value the day the story broke.

    Two things I left out of the post for brevity's sake: News of World also bribed cops to supply tips and details on ongoing investigations, and the paper played a big role in getting the current prime minister elected. David Cameron remains a personal friend of the woman who was editor-in-chief at the time the hacking took place, and he later hired her successor as his communications director.

    That person has now resigned, and it's reported he'll be arrested tomorrow (Friday). So it's not just Murdoch who's on the hot seat, but also the Conservative-led government. It couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.

    "...seems out to destroy western civilization with the dissemination of deceptions, drivel, distractions, division and disinformation."  -NCD

    You could be referring to any number of national governments with that statement. Somehow, people have become deluded into thinking that any MO, however base or deceptive it may be, as long as it's under the guise official national policy, is legit. But if it's a bank or other corporate entity a high level of ethics is required that excludes spying and the like. And for journalism especially. But to say that, knowing full well that journalism has been commercially sponsored for some 25 years.... well, to  even describe it as "news" is just a joke, it's corporate business in pursuit of the bottom line. To put it on a pedestal and raise the expectations beyond that which would normally be required of ANY _ CORPORATE _ ENTITY, including national ones, would be disingenuous. Take a look at what Wikileaks has revealed regarding the ethics of nations, and you'll be able to see what Murdoch has done in the proper light. Though I don't defend it one bit, it's mere child's play by comparison. This seems to be the huge missing piece of your complaint.  -T. Smithers

    P.s. Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice ordered the illegal gathering of location /biometric data and wiretaps, to effectively spy on diplomats of other nations and the United Nations.... to pursue much more sensitive, private information than any pursued for the interest of a tabloid, i.e. data that may change the course of world history. Was she (or they) pilloried by the press, or asked to step down? No. Hmm... I wonder why? She should be in prison for life. Murdoch or his son should get 6 months to a year (assuming they had knowledge of it).

    smithers, how about your Great White War President?

    George W. Bush, Benjamin Ferenccz, a former Nuremberg prosecutor who sent 22 Nazi's to the gallows, said Bush should be put on trial for 'the supreme international crime' of starting an illegal war of aggression. Is killing or ruining the lives of millions of people for lies worse in smithers world than asking for DNA samples?

    Where is your outrage, or does Bush get a pass because you voted for him?

    I didn't vote for Bush, and I've never defended what he did regarding the war. And  you're right, I don't disagree that leaders should be held to account (could it be more obvious?) I have no idea though what the "Great White War" refers to. If it's a racial epithet, you should be banned for trolling, if not for (more offensive yet) using that issue to try to stir up bitterness and hate in others. At the very least it would be a baseless personal accusation.

    smithers, Now you never voted for him? Oh, and 'you never defended Bush'. Wow. You, like almost all GOP Bush supporters, never mention the catastrophic reign of The Decider, preferring to dump on Obama.

    I suppose you are like most fools who voted for Bush, they gave up 'defending Bush' about 5 years ago and now usually deny they voted for him.  They also very quickly erased his legacy of failure from their memory.  They almost never denounce him and what he did to this county.

    Bush called himself a War President, and he was White. I have news for you, White is not a racial epithet any more than Black,  as in: 'the first Black President'.

    "I suppose you are like most fools who voted for Bush, they gave up 'defending Bush' about 5 years ago and now usually deny they voted for him. They also very quickly erased his legacy of failure from their memory.  They almost never denounce him and what he did to this county."

    How long have you been attempting to read people's mind online? How long calling people who you don't know fools? (or for that matter, people who you do know, but in either case it's tasteless, though in the first case it's impossible)

    I only find it necessary to denounce Bush (especially regarding the war) when his demagogue advocates need to be reminded of the failures. Since I'm not defending Obama I don't find it necessary to try affixing blame elsewhere.

    You don't know me. You have no right to characterize me personally, it's really quite absurd to try to make points in a debate that way.

    smithers:I only find it necessary to denounce Bush (especially regarding the war) when his demagogue advocates need to be reminded of the failures...

    Which Bush war, Afghanistan, Iraq, GWOT as a whole, and when? Before he started them or only after it was clear the wars were failures as you said above?

    People not brainwashed by right wing blowhards like Rush, MSM pro-war corporate propaganda, or Bush and his cohorts, didn't trust Bush from the day he took office.  They also voted against him at every opportunity, unlike you.

    They were out in the streets demonstrating against Bush wars BEFORE the wars 'of choice' were even started, they didn't wait until it was clear the wars were dismal failures, and that the reasons for them were proven to be lies.

    I know you enough smithers to know you have a rather shabby and unsophisticated intellect, a narrow view of the world, and an inflated opinion of yourself.


    Hey folks, I took the time to post about a scandal that is rocking the British government and an international media empire. What the hell does any of the above garbage have to do with that topic? Over at the left, there's a link that says "Blog now!" If you've got stuff to say that you think it's important that people hear, click there. Don't clog up my post with irrelevant nonsense.

    I actually would prefer not to talk on NCD's sidebar conversation (more at accusation).

    He created it because he suspects that I must be a Bush supporter (even though I told him I'm not) and that I must have voted for him (even though I have not).

    Apparently, only then can NCD rationalize my mentioning Hillary Clinton's crime, which, by the way, relates directly to your article and may shed light on it. You're discussing (as you described it "a scandal that is rocking... government") in the context of issues of privacy /ethics related to "electronic eaves dropping", it's legality, etc. That's what the story is about. It's perfectly legit to explore the breath of the issue, esp. when there exists, in recent history, violations of much greater magnitude. Examining that can reveal more important (more scandalous, etc.) underlying issues in regard to the story, allowing it to be fleshed out /clarified and not be restricted to what only sounds shocking or to what sounds more shocking than what it is. And could effectively open up to a more complete (and telling) dialog.

    Yes, I'd rather talk about the relevancy of this story. It's important in our time, I think. But my concern is that it's much bigger here in the forum you're using  because people would like to bring down things they dislike (Fox, Murdoch, a big corporate entity, etc.)  while they could care less if someone they do like (for purely political reasons) gets off without as much as  slap on the wrist, which would be very convoluted, and I hope it's not endemic of the topic, if not of the forum itself.

    Murdoch's NY Post buried the story by putting it somewhere in the middle of the paper.

    My initial stunned reaction to this story evaporated quickly when I realized that Murdoch was simply being Murdoch, taking advantage of the outrage that he knew was coming to fire thousands of people, save himself a fortune, put a damper on the outrage by throwing the N.O.T.W. under the bus, and then simply shifting the editorial philosophy onto one of his other rags.   Why should we be surprised when evil incarnate, (Murdoch) does something evil? 

    News of the World employed only about 200, MrSmith. And some will be rehired when its successor, the Sun on Sunday, starts up. But I agree with the rest.

    Closer to 280.

    I find the most interesting thing about this story, is David Cameron's relationship with these folks, one being his former director of communications, Andy Coulson, who was reportedly arrested today and of course his close personal relationship with Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International. Did Cameron hinder earlier investigations. This morning The Economist is basically calling for Cameron to step down. The money quote from The Economist:

    "If the result of such an inquiry is a bloodbath in Fleet Street and Scotland Yard, so be it. Mr Cameron’s refusal to push ahead with this forcefully is incredibly cowardly and shortsighted."

    The Economists full article.

    Before Cameron, Brooks was wooed heavily by Tony Blair (and vice versa). The initial investigation in this scandal dates back to 2003 - interestingly right about when Brooks moved from NoW to The Sun. During her NoW tenure, Brooks had thrown her full weight behind labor. This changed abruptly with her new job. At that point, Blair was probably kind of desperate to keep Murdoch's support.

    So if anyone was in a position (and had motivation) to hinder earlier investigations, it was Tony Blair and New Labor more than it was Cameron and the Tories.

    OTOH, Cameron's response to the scandals since becoming PM and his refusal (up to yesterday) to have the matter looked in to is probably very tied in to his desire to protect his preferred status with Murdoch and prevent personal tarnish from his close association with Coulson.

    Another interesting question is if any targets were in the United States. NoW certainly had operatives here and the methodology should work in the US as well as the UK. If so, Murdoch's life is going to get a whole hell of a lot more difficult ... NoW has been destroying documents since at least January, it seems.

    Implications in the US, I don't know.

    Here is something else I didn't know, Hugh Grant, the actor, is one of the people behind exposing this scandal.

    Grant comes across well in this clip, especially in demolishing the ex-"journalist's" contention that hacking people's phones is just "part of the game."

    Right, kgb. Leaders of both the Conservative Party and New Labour have for years cowered in fear of Murdoch's political clout. PMs Cameron, Blair and presumably Gordon Brown all sucked up to News Corp. execs like Rebekah Brooks, Coulson and Murdoch himself.

    None of them pushed for a thorough investigation, but it's hard to blame Cameron for stalling things before he came to power last year. Blame for that should probably go to Scotland Yard, which had little interest in opening the can of worms that is police corruption. The rest of the British press was also complicit in keeping things under wraps; "self-regulation" via the Press Complaints Commission proved totally toothless.

    Some heads will no doubt roll (police, journalists, maybe some low-level politicians) but probably not the right ones. My one hope is that the scandal scuttles Murdoch's total takeover of Sky. He's shown he's unfit to wield even the concentration of power he already has.

    The News of the World scandal, and public anger over it, is growing, despite Prime Minister Cameron's deluded hope that calling two public inquiries would give things time to calm down.

    Cameron is still insisting that Murdoch's total acquisition of the Sky satellite carrier is a separate issue from the illegal hacking, and still on track for regulatory approval in September. Tone-deaf; the public sees that there is a clear ethical issue at stake. If he clings to that line, he risks tearing his coalition government apart and losing his job.

    Tomorrow, opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband will introduce what he hopes will be a bipartisan motion to delay approval of the BSkyB deal until the criminal investigation into the hacking concludes. Miliband is hopeful that plenty of Social Democrats will back his motion, and even a few Conservative MPs. Effectively, that would kill the deal. The vote is set for Wednesday.

    The British public (and even some journalists) have finally rebelled against the incestuous cabal of big media, politicians and police. Here's an interesting take on how that ruling elite has operated:

    Any of that sound familiar?

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