I’ve always expected American establishment media to rally around Rupert Murdoch. He’s a Galtian overlord, after all, and I suspect that many of them think they may have to work for him some day. (That said, Jack Shafer at slate has been tearing him apart — here; here; here.)
I’ve been wondering how long it would be until someone who hates Wikileaks decided to defend Murdoch. It look longer than I thought, but the often odious Roger Cohen is on it today:
The guy’s a force of nature and his restless innovations have, on balance and with caveats, been good for the media and a more open world.
Julian Assange, the thin-skinned founder of WikiLeaks, has hurt U.S. interests across a broad but probably shallow spectrum. That will satisfy him in that he’s a self-styled foe of the United States. The guy makes me queasy.
In other words, deleting the voicemail of abducted children and publishing medical records of sick children, that’s good for the media, on balance. Attempting to hold powerful government interests to account, that makes him queasy.
Here’s a thought experiment: imagine that Wikileaks had hacked into an abducted child’s voicemail and deleted some of the messages. Suppose that Assange claimed that he had no idea this had happened, that he was on vacation that week. What do you think the reaction would be from establishment media?
If Wikileaks somehow became a huge company and Assange a billionaire, this would be all different of course. Murdoch’s techniques are condoned in many quarters simply because when a Galtian overlord does it,
it’s not a crime that means it is not illegal.
Just wondering when the hacking on this side of the pond will be linked to members of Congress, and the subsequent when and where linked to various time frames of votes taken. Could get ugly for some people.
More on the DE filing by shareholders: News Corp investors attack Murdoch. Probably not a big enough slice of shareholders to really matter but the language is at least fun to read.
Extreme profitability thru any means necessary (coupled with turning a beaming eye upon the vainglorious) is more effective at buying the moral indulgences of a corrupt press than 14K gold was in buying an indulgence into heaven was from Catholic Popes in times gone by.
Think Progress says News Corp (who picked that name? What, Bullshit Incorporated was already taken?) may face prosecution in the USA.
Unless you’re a whore who sees journalism as nothing more than entertainment and propaganda, there is no fucking way you could say that Murdoch has “on balance and with caveats, been good for the media and a more open world.”
Jesus, do I have to do everything around here?
Mark S., that’s not really fair to actual, hard-working whores.
Wait ’til Roger Cohen finds out he’s probably been hacked too. Gordon Brown has just said he’s been hacked, so it’s all fun and games and caveat this and balance that until it’s you. Like all sociopaths, unless it affects them it’s no problemo.
It’s the things that you find out about these supposed titans that always always surprise me. I read in the Guardian last night that Rebekah Brooks made a NotW journalist change his name to Harry Potter and wear a sorcerer’s costume (as the “Harry Potter” correspondent). I mean, that’s nuts — that’s nuts behavior. That should set off alarm bells but it just goes under the waves and she goes off to another meeting with the UK PM.
That said, this story is fascinating. I wish I were in the UK so I could soak up all the 24/7 coverage.
I really don’t understand why “World of the News” bothered. Fox News learned long ago that it is far easier to just make shit up then to bother spying on folk.
Maybe Rupert’s people on this side of the pond are just more creative?
Seriously though, are we going to be shocked when we find out Murdoch’s minions did the same thing in the USA?
Villago Delenda Est
Murdoch is a vulgarian, and Cohen is his willing and enthusiastic splooge receptacle.
1) As a general observation, this entire thing’s making me want to watch Tomorrow Never Dies again. Watching Rupert Murdoch get his comeuppance in a Bond movie is the closest I’m likely to get, to watching him actually get his comeuppance.
2) It’s all about who gets hacked. People like Roger Cohen rub shoulders with people like Murdoch, or like the politicians and Pentagon guys who got hacked by whatsisface – the bias towards/kinship with both of them, as opposed to some muckraking outsider that doesn’t run in their circles, makes sense. (It’s been more muted in this case because of how heinous NewsCorp’s actions were, IMO).
3) Once again: what the hell were they THINKING hacking dead people’s cell phones? All for ratings? Was there really no more convenient, less backlash-inducing way for them to do that?
I made the mistake of linking to Cohen’s piece. I think I’ll be spending the next hour in the bathroom.
That anyone would even consider saying that Murdoch has been a positive force on journalism means that person is by default not a journalist.
Got to say, a week ago I was cynical about Murdoch himself taking much heat from the revelations about phone-hacking, but the scale of this scandal is looking bigger by the day. Hugh Grant (of all people) put it best on the BBC’s Question Time program when he said (paraphrasing) “We know know that Murdoch’s newspapers have been systematically spying on millions of people for at least a decade, and using the information they steal to blackmail politicians into silence and corrupt the police into assisting them. That’s not a media scandal, that’s a criminal enterprise.”
Had Murdoch cut loose the people most clearly implicated in the phone-hacking program when it first went nova he – might – have been able to confine it to a “few bad apples at the News of the World” story. But the way he’s clenched Rebecca Brooks to his bosom leaves the implication that he doesn’t dare put her in a position where her best interests are served by spilling the beans. That tells me he didn’t just know about the spying, he officially authorised it.
Which leads me to believe that such a succesful program for generating exclusive stories and limiting regulatory interference wouldn’t have been confined to his British based tabloids. There’s already murmurs out there that his American tabloids might have been doing it. How long before someone asks if maybe, just maybe, there’s a more sinister reason than “They might want to work for him someday” driving the MSM’s gilded geldings’ eagerness to embrace Fox News as their ‘sister network’?
All it takes is one break in the dam, then it all starts gushing out.
And yes, Cohen is a POS.
But at least his fingers are slim and dainty.
Apparently this will come as a shock to some around here, but it is not at all difficult to conclude that both Rupert Murdoch and Julian Assange are both vile scum who deserve much worse fates than what seems likely to actually befall them.
Possibly. Either that, or she simply knows enough crap about him, even if it’s not related to this particular case, that he doesn’t dare allow her to come to trial in the first place.
If rats turning on each other could destroy NewsCorp, that’d be fantastic. Alas, it’s probably too much to hope for, and Roger Ailes’ pet projects are profitable enough that it probably wouldn’t solve our problem on this side of the ocean.
And Grant’s absolutely right in framing systematic phone hacking as the action of a criminal enterprise.
Murdoch has cultivated, in some of his media outlets, a disregard for objectivity and fairness, for ethical limits in seeking out stories.
His executives at NoTW instigated a host of other heinous acts as well, let’s not forget: bribing cops to leak investigation details, invading the privacy of prominent people, compromising the security of royal personages and other people under police protection, hacking the cellphones of people related to dead military personnel and victims of terrorist acts, all to go fishing for their idea of news scoops and scandal. A love for a good scoop and a scrap doesn’t make up for the rampant amorality of News International’s journalistic practices.
These people haven’t just brought down the world’s biggest English language Sunday paper. They’ve brought shame on journalism itself, Cohen’s own profession.
What makes Murdoch himself especially heinous is that he promoted those executives, in particular Rebekah Brooks, and is even now seeking to protect them. If he had no idea what they were doing, then he, their ultimate boss, was asleep while on watch. If he did know, then he shares in any moral and/or criminal responsibility that they bear.
That Cohen admires the kingpin of all this makes me wonder about his own sense of ethics.
He’s protecting a mistress. There’s no other explanation for what Uncle Rupert is doing.
Villago Delenda Est
Assange may be vile scum, but at least he’s not Ferengi vile scum.
I know I should be all emo over how our evil president is selling us out etc. etc. but I can’t stop reading the Guardian website and comments. Wow. Talk about the need for giant bowls of popcorn. If Rupert thought the Milly Dowler story was bad, this afternoon’s news that they stole medical records of Gordon Brown’s CHILDREN and printed them–when dear Rebekah was the editor of the Sun, not the News of the World…(it’s spreading!!!!)…incredibly horrible for everyone involved but I’m totally loving it. The kingmaker might actually be crumbling before our eyes…criminality is involved, in spades.
@18 What he said.
Two quick points: 1. Tony J is absolutely correct in viewing Brooks & the Murdochs (father and son) through the prism of individual self-interest.
2. When Brooks told the cops they were “investigating a report that [one officer] was having an affair with another officer” — and the two had been married for years, and that had been in the papers — it showed that their first response was illegal bugging (supposedly justified on public interest grounds), without so much as quick Google, let alone a Lexis-Nexis search.
Chris @ 11,
“Once again: what the hell were they THINKING hacking dead people’s cell phones? All for ratings? Was there really no more convenient, less backlash-inducing way for them to do that?”
From what has been reported, whenever anyone would go to one of the NOTW editors with a story, one of the first questions asked would be “Where are the phone hacks?”. It was – that – widespread.
Put it this way. For at least a decade everyone in public life in Britain, including anyone who was part of a tragedy that propelled them into the public eye, has been spied on by ‘journalists’ who would hack their phone records looking for information they could use to expose/blackmail/corrupt/coerce them into giving those ‘journalists’ headlines and generate revenue for News Corp.
So no, as far as convenient goes, there was no other way. It worked and it made money. If that meant deleting messages from a murdered girl’s mobile phone to free up space for more anguished messages from her friends and family, then exploiting the desperate belief amongst her friends and family that these deletions signalled she might still be alive in order to sell newspapers by printing exclusive interviews with them?
How convenient is that?
@burpsy Tell me, who shit in your cornflakes this morning? I’ll send them a strongly worded letter.
You’d have be some kind of bitter contrarian to equate these two men. One leads an organisation trying to expose government and corporate wrongdoing, the other engages in a 30 year criminal conspiracy to suborn the governments of the English speaking world. And yet to you, they are equally worthy of the fires of hell. You’d have to crazy to believe this.
Yutsano @ 18,
It certainly looks like she’s been groomed to take on the role of Rupert’s (non-biological) Heir. If there was any “I got it in your hair again” business going on I’d like to just walk on by and leave some things in the shadows, IYKWIM.
As an aside, poor Ross Kemp. If he’s an unknown to you Colonials, see if you can download the episode of Ricky Gervais’ Extras series where Ross plays ‘himself’ and offends Vinny Jones. That poor guy was her arm-candy for a few years, and barely got out with his dignity – or some measure of it – intact.
JHChrist, they’ve made Gordon Fucking Brown get sympathy in the UK.
This was at the bottom of one of the guardian pieces. It looks like Murdoch et al use “Guido Fawkes” the blogger as their local version of Drudge, driving stories that are illegal or dicey from the fringe to the center:
This whole thing is fascinating. But I’m sure Rebecca has more on Murdoch than sex. These guys would think nothing of throwing her over if it were just sex. There wouldn’t even be an embarrassment factor since she counts as trophy sex.
Martha @ 20,
If it offically spreads to The Sun (virtual spit) then it’s Game Over for Murdoch in the UK. Countdown to the pre-emptive revelation in Murdoch’s rags (he might choose The Times) that every single British tabloid is just as deep in phone-hacking as the NOTW. There’s no way The Star or The Mirror or The Express or The Mail – wouldn’t – have resorted to it once Murdoch’s papers proved how profitable and easy it was. Free-market competition and all that.
I have to say, now that it’s started, this scandal is going to keep on building in a way that might, just might, mind you, start cleaning up the Media.
With the UK’s libel laws, you can’t just publish shit you made up. Well, technically you can publish it, if you’re willing to write a million-pound check to the victim of every story you published.
@aimai — I agree that it’s not just sex. The interesting time will be the moment that Rebekah decides that her personal interests are not precisely aligned with those of the Murdoch family, either because they throw her overboard, or because she concludes that they are going to sink, doesn’t matter which. She knows stuff, and you may be sure she is figuring out how to use it.
@Tony J — Of course the Sun is where Rebekah from Wapping really made her bones. …
aimai @ 27,
If it worked over there, why not over over here? And it puts the whole question of the BSkyB takeover in an even more awkward light. A British version of ‘Fox News’, with its support apparatus of ‘on the gravy train’ Politi-Blogs would have been a great boon to the Right in the UK, but it doesn’t look like Rupert is going to be able to deliver any more. The public outcry that would greet Murdoch getting total control of BSkyB’s product after he’s been exposed in this way might cost Cameron and the Tories the next election.
I’ve often speculated that the media’s and the politicians’ deference to Israel is based on an extensive Mossad blackmail operation.
Murdoch is in the blackmail business for sure.
It’s known that UK politicians either toed Murdoch’s line or were publicly excoriated for it. There are stories in the UK press now of direct threats to politicians to go along or else.
I expect there are plenty of stories here in the US that we haven’t heard yet.
What strikes me is how the press in the UK lays out the truth bluntly. What the paper did to Brown and his wife was appalling. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/11/phone-hacking-news-international-gordon-brown
Good for Hugh Grant for calling it a criminal enterprise. Pondering the implications of the blackmail, corruption and suppression of information by the media (not only in the UK but in the US as well, I’m sure) is terrifying.
pete @ 30
There are no words your primitive human ears could hear that might accurately express the level of distain and disgust my people* feel for The Sun. This explains the ubiquity of Hoodies and Women Wearing Their Pyjamas To Go Shopping in Liverpool. We don’t even like the Word touching us.
*Unless you support Everton PC. Bluenoses are like Wingnuts in that they exist to make their opposites angry by doing that which most offends them.
Nutella @ 32,
And that’s the thing that will keep driving this, or kill it stone dead once it reaches beyond British shores.
It’s not the phone-hacking, it’s not the abuse of privacy or the exploitation of people in the public eye to sell newspapers. It’s the blackmail of elected officials and the corruption of police officers. Not to be hyperbolic, but that’s bordering on treason.
And if Rupert’s American outlets were using the same tactics there, might he come to regret taking American citizenship? I never thought Fox might be brought down from the head first, but if any evidence emerges that News Corp employees were doing the same thing to protect their status as a ‘respected news agency’ in the US, all hell could break loose.
Kathleen @ 33,
I was paraphrasing. Grant was pretty great on that Question Time, and drove the Unoffical Representative of the Tabloid Press to spitting anger, but I don’t know he actually used that phrase. That was the jist of what he was saying.
Bloggers Ethics Code Rules are in effect even when visiting.
Criminals are criminals. If you think their crimes somehow benefited society, write a letter to the probation office when it comes time for them to prepare the sentencing recommendation.
Tony J, sorry for the time lag (work got in the way). I would think that if it spreads to the Sun, (and since Rebekah edited it, of course it did), then all bets are off.
It might actually be like Enron was in this country in that NI would fold more quickly than anyone might have thought. The legal liability on multiple shores…wow.
And I completely agree: it’s about cold, simple blackmail at all levels. And of course, blackmail’s partner, corruption. We have lots here of course. But evil Rupert started on your shores, so it’s fitting that he lose it over there…
Yes, bribing the police is particularly shocking to me, but they’ve gotten away with it before.
I hope the the current explosion of information ends differently. So far it’s looking big enough and bad enough and public enough that it can’t be swept under the rug. Here’s hoping that the crimes are exposed and the criminals tried and convicted this time.
If it is true, then expect Roger Ailes to doing everything he knows how (calling in favors, issuing stern warnings to employees, etc) to make sure that none of those hypothetical things ever come to light here.
I don’t know why anyone would expect this scandal to impact America.
I know we can hope, but there’s a large segment of the population that bases their decision making on the following, “If it makes a liberal angry, I am all for it.”
If liberals are up in arms about Rupert Murdoch, a large segment of voters will reflexively just support him because he’s making liberals mad.
I think that mindset explains a lot of the voting habits of people, who support things like caps on professional liability litigation and other parts of the pro-corporate, anti-worker, right-wing agenda.
What crime related to the actions of Wikileaks is Assange alleged to have committed? [sex crime accusations are immaterial to the media issue being discussed]
This country is no longer able to mount the unified level of public outrage that happened after something like Watergate.
Murdoch is not the only purveyor of right-wing nuttiness here. Before Murdoch started Fox News, the right-wing had enough of a media presence to make Whitewater headline news for two years.
It’d be nice to not have Fox News to contend with, but there’s a market for Fox News. If News Corp. starts falling apart, look for a money making segment, like Fox News to be sold to some other nutty right-wing billionaire, who can keep them on the air.
Combine the two factors and Murdoch is very, very, very safe, with regards to his U.S. operations.
Any problems on the other side of the “pond” will stay over there.
gene108: I’m rather expecting the impact in the U.S. to come in via the economic page, through shareholder concerns about 1) sane management / business practices; 2) spill-over legal liabilities; and 3) worries about the transition to the next generation (James isn’t exactly covered in glory here). So I guess I hope I’m putting my hope in large segment of the ‘mercan business world continuing to be the selfish greedy pricks they pride themselves on being. Seems a slightly safer bet, all in all.
Let us remember that the “odious Richard Cohen” won top prize in Alex Pareene’s “Hack 30” pantheon last year. (Link: http://www.salon.com/news/war_room_hack_thirty/index.html
(Mark Halperin was runner-up in that pageant of journalistic ugliness. Halperin. Hey remember him? That story sure disappeared fast. Sorta like Helen Thomas.)
Imagine just how irredeemably twisted one’e professional ethics must be to write “Overall the British media scene without Murdoch would be pretty impoverished.” Such sympathy in the full knowledge of Murdoch’s history of journalistic malpractice and newspaper union busting leads me to muse how resplendent the American media scene would be without Cohen and his Washington Post editorial brethren.
The magma continues to erupt from the NI/NoW scandal, engulfing ever more of the political/media/law enforcement landscape. Every time on my daily periodic visits to the Guardian website yet another repellent revelation or act of political gamesmanship is being reported. Scav’s comment (#26) is spot on.
Well worth paying attention to is Labor Party leader Ed Miliband’s effort to introduce a parliamentary measure on whether the BSkyB takeover by News International should be suspended until the recently announced official inquires into the scandal are completed. This measure could have significant repercussions for the coalition British government, the collapsed political fortunes of the Liberal Democratic Party, and cohesion among Tory backbenchers.
Yes, perhaps I should be devoting more attention to the debacle of the debt ceiling negotiations, but it stokes my fire when the Fourth Estate is held responsible for some fraction of their manifold crimes and misdemeanors.
Fox News used to cite the The Times for news sources. I have ignored Fox News for years so I don’t know if this is still the practice but if it is, they are tied to the events in England. A good journalist would be able to connect the dots.
I would recommend that anyone interested in these events reads Flat Earth News, the book by Nick Davies (the Guardian journo instrumental in exposing the initial phone-hacking cases), which:
(a) is pretty much everything you need to know about the practices of both tabloid and broadsheet hacks
(b) makes it pretty fucking clear that the Daily Mail, under the long-term editorship of Paul Dacre, will be among the next major newspapers to get kicked about, as they’ve forked out about 3 times what NI have to the same people.
Paul Dacre is a name you might recognise, because as well as being the editor of the Mail, he’s the Chairman of the Editor’s Code of Practice at the Press Complaints Commission, who have “been lied to” and utterly failed to provide any regulation of the NI stable or, indeed, the rest of the UK newspaper industry.
I rather hope they’ll be mothballed fairly shortly.
Jesus fucking cherry-flavored gummi christs, you’re an idiot of astonishing scope.
Setting aside the question of whether or not Assange has actually committed any crimes–a question that is still quite unsettled, regardless of how unsavory you think his activities are–this still remains one of the stupidest things I’ve read on this thread, and possibly anywhere all week.
Sure, “criminals are criminals”. Which is exactly why we execute both jaywalkers and murderers.
Seriously, that is grade school level thinking–and I use that last word advisedly. My ten-year-old is capable of more nuanced reasoning than that we can draw no distinctions between one crime and another because “criminals are criminals”.
Criminals are criminals. If you think their crimes somehow benefited society, write a letter to the probation office when it comes time for them to prepare the sentencing recommendation.
Um, exactly what crime is Julian Assange accused of?* The accusations against Murdoch are that he engaged in a decades-long conspiracy of spying, extortion and blackmail against politicians, the police, celebrities, and thousands of ordinary citizens. The accusations against Assange are that he…what? Legally published materials that were provided to him by a source, just as newspapers and other media do every single day?
The US government, we know, engaged in a lengthy campaign to see if there was something, anything they could charge him with, and they came up empty — a sure sign that there’s nothing there. As much as some people seem to want to believe that was Assange did should have been a crime, believe me, it wasn’t.
*And yes, I’m ignoring the rape charges in Sweden because they have nothing to do with Wikileaks.
“The Guardian reports that a “powerful group of News Corp’s shareholders” have accused Rupert Murdoch of “rampant nepotism” and treating his media empire like a “family candy jar.”
Wasn’t this obvious all along?
tony J @ 24
I guess politicians and others in the media really should use the same MO for phones as the drug dealers in ‘The Wire’.
Bought with cash anonymously, plus discarded every month.
I have no cell phone now, but would consider that policy for myself.
Catclub – great advice for those in the spotlight, but Milly Dowler (the murdered girl whose voicemail was hacked) wasn’t famous or expecting to be. Nor were the families of British Armed forces who were killed in Iraq & Afghanistan, let alone the victims and their families of 7/7 and if rumours are to be believed victims and their families of 9/11. NI didn’t give a flying one about their privacy in the face of making a profit.
And it’s not just the mobiles, NI corrupted policemen and medical staff to get their scoops, they used actors to mislead staff in banks to get information. It’s claimed that they sent trojan laden emails to prominent people who they wanted to spy on.
David Cameron had a young, disabled son called Ivan, who died not that long ago. He must be wondering, tonight if his “friends” at NI have done the same thing to his son’s medical records as they did to Gordon Brown’s children.
@JaneGoth — absolutely, and it was a public service, of course, since they proved that a sufficiently evil person could do all those things! See — socially redeeming value, innit?
To be serious for a moment, I thought the Milly Dowler incident(s) was the bottom, but stealing — and publishing — the medical records of Gordon and Sarah Brown’s sick babies is as disgusting. And then they hack his bank account and tax return. It’s literally unbelievable. These people are sick.
Re Rebekah Brooks, one of the British papers has suggested that Murdoch is using her as a shield for his son James, who is higher up in the hierarchy than she is; if she’s sacked, then people will start asking questions about what James knew and did in all of this.