- Famed journalist George Seldes (1890 - 1995) condemned
press prostitutes in books like "Lords of the Press," denouncing
their corruption, suppression of truth, and news censorship before television
reached large audiences, saying:
- "The most sacred cow of the press is the press itself
- the most powerful force against the general welfare of the majority of
- Australian journalist Bruce Page authored a book on Murdock
titled, "The Murdoch Archigelago," calling him:
- "one of the world's leading villains (and) global
pirate(s)," rampaging the mediasphere, telling world leaders what
he expects from them and what he'll offer in return. It's "let's make
a deal," Murdoch-style that's uncompromisingly hardball, some on the
receiving end calling it an offer they can't refuse.
- On air and in print, his operations support allies and
beat up on adversaries, enough at times to affect political outcomes his
way, especially in Britain and his native Australia, but also helping hard-right
- For mass audiences, he specializes in sensationalist
pseudo-journalism, distorting the truth, at the same time juicing-up reports
on murder, mayhem, mishaps, celebrity gossip and soft porn for audiences
that love it.
- He's so beyond respectability, in fact, that former Chicago
columnist Mike Royko (1932 - 1997) once said "no self-respecting fish
would (want to) be wrapped in a Murdoch paper....His goal (isn't) journalism,
(it's) vast power, political power," and, of course, bottom line priorities.
If ideologically acceptable and sells, he'll feature it and has for decades.
- From his early beginnings to his current unrivaled media
world status (unless scandal now brings him down), he's wielded unchallenged
power ruthlessly as a world class predator, using deception, chicanery,
arrogance, artfulness, charm, cunning, sheer muscle, will, intimidation,
poisonous influence and toadying to get his way by bullying people to prevail.
- Bereft of ethics, his media empire includes a bordello
of print and broadcast outlets. In his book titled, "The Man Who Owns
the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch," Michael Wolff
called him a monarch, gangster and con man, interested only in power, control
- Given his history, clout, connections, manipulativeness,
and hardball style, a fitting headline in the wake of the News of the World
(NOTW) scandal would be Murdoch comes a cropper.
- If only true, bringing down the world's leading media
villain, purveyor of sleaze, and power hungry news baron - clawing, exploiting,
and hacking his way to notoriety and fortune.
- In fact, however this affects him going forward (at age
80), expect his media empire to survive like caught-in-the-act Wall Street
bandits - stealing billions, penalized millions, a few insiders at times
going down, then back to business grabbing more.
- So far, however, a bumpy ride followed London Guardian
writers Nick Davies and Amelia Hill breaking the story, headlining on July
4, "Missing Milly Dowler's voicemail was hacked by News of the World,"
- Murdoch's UK tabloid "illegally targeted (her) and
her family in March 2002, interfering with police inquiries into her disappearance,
an investigation by the Guardian has established."
- After that it was all downhill, evidence showing Murdoch's
NOTW hacked into phones and electronically spied on prime ministers, other
politicians, celebrities, royal aides, Prince William, perhaps the queen,
and innocent victims like Milly Dowler.
- Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's Peter Hart said
he "may have hoped that....clos(ing) down News of the World"
would make the story "go away, but (it's) getting bigger by the day
if not by the hour."
- Even prime ministers aren't immune, according to London
Independent writers Oliver Wright and Nigel Morris, headlining on July
16, "Revealed: Cameron's 26 meetings in 15 months with Murdoch chiefs,"
- Since becoming UK prime minister, David Cameron met with
Murdoch "executives no fewer than 26 (times) in just over a year...."
In fact, Rebekah Brooks, News International's chief executive and former
NOTW editor "is the only person (Cameron) invited twice to Chequers
(UK prime ministers' private country house since 1921), a privilege not
extended even to the most senior" cabinet members.
- Eight months ago, Murdoch's son James (his heir apparent
as News Corp. chairman and CEO) was also a Chequers guest, as well as NOTW
editor Andy Coulson, arrested this week "in connection with police
corruption and phone hacking...."
- Moreover, documents revealed that News International
executives and editors had 15 private meetings with Cameron since May,
showing the grip Murdoch has on British politics, able to make or break
aspirants in print or on air. In fact, veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner
calls him "a cancer on the body politic" because of his influence
on electoral outcomes.
- According to former Times of London editor/Murdoch employee
- "There's no doubt it's been hugely damaging to"
his UK interests. However, rivals like The Guardian, BBC, and other news
organizations exploited it out of proportion, hoping to capitalize advantageously.
So did Carl Bernstein (of Woodward and Bernstein fame), calling the scandal
- At the same time, Conservative MPs like Zac Goldsmith
said, "(p)oliticians have suddently started to distance themselves
from Murdoch....Other times (members) of both major parties craved his
attention in the most groveling fashion."
- That despite knowledge of prior illegal hacking. Examples
- -- In March 2002, hacking Milly Dowler and her family's
- -- In November 2005, NOTW writing about Prince William
injuring his knee, prompting royal officials to suspect voice mail hacking.
- -- In November 2007, NOTW royal editor Clive Goodman
and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire convicted of phone mail hacking
and jailed. NOTW's editor claimed no knowledge but resigned.
- -- In June 2008, News Corp. pays soccer executive Gordon
Taylor 700,000 pounds to settle charges of phone hacking.
- -- In March 2010, NOTW paid a celebrity PR agent over
one million pounds to drop his lawsuit.
- -- In September 2010, former NOTW journalist Sean Hoare
alleged that phone hacking was common practice, encouraged by former editor
- -- On January 21, 2011, Coulson resigned as David Cameron's
spokesman over allegations of phone hacking.
- -- On April 5, 2011, NOTW chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck
and former editor Ian Edmondson were arrested on suspicion of hacking voice
- -- On April 10, NOTW formally apologized for voice mail
hacking from 2004 - 2006. It also agreed to compensate victims.
- -- On April 14, senior NOTW journalist James Weatherup
is arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to hack communications.
- -- On June 7, NOTW paid actress Sienna Miller 100,000
pounds in damages and legal fees.
- -- On June 23, freelance journalist Terenia Taras was
arrested on suspicion of phone hacking.
- -- On July 4, Milly Dowler's hacking story broke.
- -- On July 7, News International announces that NOTW
will cease publishing after July 10.
- -- On July 8, Coulson is arrested. Former royal editor
Clive Goodman is again arrested on corruption allegations.
- -- On July 11, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown accuses
News International newspapers of illegally obtaining private information
- -- On July 12, UK lawmakers summon Rupert and James Murdoch,
as well as Rebekah Brooks to testify before Parliament.
- -- On July 13, News Corp. withdraws its takeover bid
for UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB. In addition, Prime Minister Cameron
announces a wide-ranging public inquiry into the scandal.
- -- On July 14, the FBI launches an investigation into
whether News Corp. may have hacked into phones of 9/11 victims after members
of Congress requested it.
- -- On July 15, Brooks resigns as News International CEO.
In addition, Dow Jones head Les Hinton resigns.
- -- On July 15, New York Times writer Don Van Natta Jr.
headlined, "Stain From Tabloids Rubs Off on a Cozy Scotland Yard,"
- The Times learned that former NOTW editor Neil Wallis
"report(ed) back to News International while he was working for the
police on the hacking case. Executives and others at the company also enjoyed
close social ties to Scotland Yard's top officials."
- "Since the hacking scandal began in 2006,"
Metropolitan Police Service assistant commissioner John Yates and other
police officials "regularly dined with editors from News International
papers, records show. Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan Police commissioner,
met for lunch or dinner 18 times with company executives and editors during
the investigation," including eight times with Wallis while employed
- On July 15, Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed the
FBI investigation, saying:
- "There have been serious allegations raised....There
have been members of Congress....who have asked us to investigate (and)
we are progressing in that regard, using the appropriate federal agencies
in the United States."
- What'll come of it isn't known. Watergate didn't topple
Nixon. Harming powerful interests did, so it remains to be seen if Murdoch
committed similar transgressions. If so, retirement at age 80 may follow,
but not the demise of News Corp. and its flagship Fox News operation, a
cash cow New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman believes will be more valuable
- That depends, of course, on what, if any, wrongdoing
FBI investigations disclose and whether or not prosecutions follow.
- For sure Murdoch sustained a body blow. Calling it coup
de grace strength, however, exaggerates how News Corp will be affected.
It likely will survive long after its aging head steps down, but imagine
a Murdoch-free media landscape. Then imagine freedom from all managed and
junk food news. Tune out and make it happen.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive
Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central
time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy