Rupert Murdoch: Mr. Sleaze, I Presume?

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[Speaking Truth To Power]

Emperor of News Sleaze Is Naked

Last Sunday, media mogul Rupert Murdoch closed his English newspaper "The News of The World," founded in 1843, amid the widening probe into revelations his reporters were involved in phone-hacking and bribing police to obtain news scoops.

Given the continuing, unfolding magnitude of this journalistic malfeasance—and its implication regarding ethics in journalism and media consolidation—isn’t it time mainstream media take a good look in the mirror?

According to Scotland Yard, and English police sources, several reporters and executives of "The News of the World" have hacked into the voicemails of over 4,000 people, including victims of the July 7, 2005 Subway Attacks in England.

Some of the victims, of these privacy intrusions, include: former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, parliamentarian George Galloway, Prince William Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry of Wales. Also, allegedly, "The News of The World" employees bribed police officials for information regarding people the newspaper targeted.

"The News of The World" is operated by News International, the global arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp—the world’s
second-largest media conglomerate behind the Walt Disney Company. New York-based News Corp is
part of Australian-born Murdoch's global media empire. Its assets total close to $60 billion.

Murdoch bought "The News of the World" in 1969. In a statement, Murdoch’s son, James said “The good things the News of The World does…have been sullied by behavior that was wrong. The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it comes to itself.”  

The elder Murdoch has been somewhat silent during the expanding scandal. And, a $19 billion takeover bid to merge Murdoch’s Sky News with British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) may now be in jeopardy. Murdoch already owned 39 percent of BSkyB. The deal would give him the remaining 61 percent of BSkyB.

Several executives and reporters, from "The News of The World," have been arrested in the fallout from the phone hacking scandal including:  Ian Edmonsen, Neville Thurlbeck,James Weatherup, Clive Goodman and former reporter Andy Coulson.

Coulson served as public relations chief to British Prime Minister David Cameron, from 2007—after he left the News of the World—until Jan 21 when he resigned citing “continued coverage of events connected to my old job at The News of the World.” James Murdoch is also facing possible prosecution over allegations he misled the English Parliament. The role of editor Rebekah Brooks is also being investigated.

The News of The World phone hacking scandal has been ongoing for several years. However, it has now gained international notoriety because of the case of 13-year-old Amanda “Milly” Dowler who was kidnapped, in 2002, by British serial killer Levi Bellfield. Bellfield was convicted, on June 23 2011, of murdering Dowler.

Last week, The Guardian reported Scotland Yard’s findings that Ms. Dowler’s voicemail had broken into by reporters from "The News of the World" and their private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. Mr. Mulcaire was arrested when the phone-hacking charges first surfaced around 2006. Scotland Yard announced "The News of The World" reporters had deleted messages from Dowler’s voicemail destroying potential evidence and giving Dowler’s family false hope that she was still alive.

The reporters, presumably, deleted the messages because her mailbox was full. Deleting the messages allowed them to listen to the other messages on the phone. According to police sources, there is also evidence "The News of the World" 
executives deleted millions of internal e-mails in an attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard’s investigation. However, the inquiry continues and there are accusations that some Murdoch news outlets, in America, are guilty of the same things.

This story highlights some of the primary problems in today’s corporate media culture, not just in England, but here in America too. Unfortunately, shallow, sensationalistic, unethical journalism is the standard. This is because men like Rupert Murdoch have been allowed to monopolize media and mass produce ignorance to the detriment of democracy.

Media barons, like Murdoch, don’t give a damn about informing the public. Theirs is a money-driven mindset that has made mainstream media nothing more than the mouthpiece of power. We’re told "The News of The World" reporters paid police for gossipy news tips. This sort of behavior isn’t peculiar in the profession.

American journalists are often bribed—or bullied—into burying important stories, or publicizing others, by politicians, or, those with deep pockets. Do you remember when Armstrong Williams was fired from America’s Black Forum for not
disclosing he was paid $240,000 to tout President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program? That disclosure made Mr. Williams’ zeal for Republican ideals crystal clear. Is it any wonder then that we have sycophantic journalists who are aware they must behave if they want to be invited to those lavish parties given by the rich and famous?

Now, Mr. Murdoch can pretend he didn’t know what his reporters were doing. But his “news” outlets have a track record for publishing and broadcasting junk journalism. Let’s take a look at two of his other media operations: FOX News and
The New York Post. Recently, the Post ran a story claiming the African woman who accused
former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Khan of a sex attack is a prostitute. So far, has the Post given us anything other than hearsay evidence and a supposed unnamed source to support this claim? The woman promptly filed a lawsuit against The Post.

Remember when Mr. Murdoch, basically, said the Post’s portrayal of President Obama as a chimpanzee, being shot down by the NYPD, was just an unfortunate misperception being made by African-Americans? Does any honest person, who saw that hideous cartoon, really believe that?

Then there is FOX News. This “news” outlet by itself broadcasts a staggering amount of lies and half-truths every single day. This is the same network that pressed false and misleading stories—like the ACORN and Shirley Sherrod debacles—from the likes of Andrew Breitbart. In the end, this phone-hacking story illustrates the problems of a media corrupted by monopolization and greed from the likes of Rupert Murdoch. Ironically, he is paying the price for his own depraved and unchecked greed.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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