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British Politicians Blast Rupert Murdoch for Hacking Scandal

British Politicians Blast Rupert Murdoch for Hacking Scandal

Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the News Corporation, is facing fire from British politicians over a voicemail hacking scandal that just keeps getting bigger and bigger.  First, Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Milibrand expressed their outrage with one of the News Corporation’s tabloid newspapers, News of the World, which was accused of hiring a private investigator to hack into the voicemail of a missing 13-year-old girl.  The investigator then deleted voicemails to make room for new ones, giving the girl’s family false hope and confusing the police.

Now, the tabloid is being accused of hacking the phones of people whose family members died in the July 7, 2005 London Underground bombing.  New allegations also claim that the paper hacked into the voicemails of bereaved relatives who had recently been informed that their loved ones died in Iraq or Afghanistan.

In breaking news, James Murdoch announced that this Sunday’s issue of News of the World will be its last.  This isn’t surprising; the newspaper violated journalistic ethics in such an absurdly dramatic way that it hardly seems that the News Corporation could continue to defend it.  But even after the tabloid is gone, the ripples of this scandal may continue to plague Murdoch, whose current plans to take over the pay-television company British Sky Broadcasting may be in jeopardy.  Murdoch owns four leading British newspapers, in addition to international media outlets.

Zac Goldsmith, a Conservative legislator, said that Murdoch was guilty of “systemic abuse of almost unprecedented power.”  He added, “There is nothing noble in what these newspapers have been doing,” he said. “Rupert Murdoch is clearly a very, very talented businessman — he’s possibly even a genius — but his organization has grown too powerful and has abused that power. It has systematically corrupted the police and in my view has gelded this Parliament, to our shame.”

For many, this is a sign that British tabloid culture has gotten out of control.  Rebekah Brooks, now a top executive at News Corporation, is at the center of the controversy, because of her role as editor of News of the World during the search for Milly Dowler.  Brooks is a close friend of both Rupert Murdoch and Prime Minister David Cameron, and said she knew nothing about the Dowler hacking.  Her meteoric rise to the top of the tabloid ladder was marked by what the New York Times calls her “creative flair in getting articles and her lack of compunction in how she got them.”  At one point, she admitted to a House of Commons select committee that her current newspaper, The Sun, had paid the police for information, remarks which she later said were misunderstood.

The saddest part of this whole scandal, however, is the fact that the disappearance of a schoolgirl and the grief of families whose loved ones had just died in war or in a terrorist attack, were seen as tabloid stories.  This staggering invasion into ordinary people’s tragedies, conducted until now with impunity, shows that tabloid culture has gotten completely out of hand.  Let’s hope that the British Parliament is successful in its attempts to bring newspapers like News of the World to task – and that Rupert Murdoch doesn’t escape by cutting his losses with one tabloid.

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Photo from World Economic Forum via flickr

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46 comments

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8:11PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Love it, he cannot hide anymore!

9:33PM PDT on Jul 11, 2011

Take the Wall Street Journal as an example. He has taken a reputible news paper and thrown it out the window. You can no longer believe anything the journal says.
We all know how fox has screwed up the airwaves with the right wing nuts coming out of the wall.
He needs to be held accountable and make him divest himself of all publications and media outlets.

9:12PM PDT on Jul 11, 2011

Will Americans make the philosophical connection between NEWS OF THE WORLD and the "fair and balanced" FOX NEWS? Maybe. Can we smell coffee? Sometimes.Will there be some BIG changes in the Tenor of our media discourse? I sincerely HOPE so!

5:44PM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

Finally, Mr. Murdoch is being exposed for the 'sleaze bag' that he is.
No one does anything without his approval, as he is the consummate control freak. He sets the attitude and hires people that will do his bidding.
In the end, he even turned again Glenn Beck, his own protege.

He is the perfect person to represent Big Business, who wish to subjugate the masses. Only the self-secure and strong minded will rally against him. The remainder will follow like puppets.

WHAT A SWEETHEART!!!

2:00AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

Thanks for covering this. I think it's important to add though that this is a much more serious issue than just NI being involved in phone hacking. The Metropolitan police are also involved as they were accepting payments from News International for various things. As the investigation has continued (over many years here now) it also appears that several figures in very high places knew what was going - and even signed off on the payments to police. This includes Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch and possibly even Rupert himself.

Additionally, there is the very strong possibility that David Cameron also knew what was going on yet kept silent as he and his wife are very close friends with both his ex-advisor (and ex-NotW editor) Andy Coulson and with Rebekah Brooks. This is a *massive* case of corruption involving Murdoch's papers, the police and some top politicians ...and there are many allusions from people who have knowledge that there may be much more to come out yet. Even the Times, which isn't a tabloid is now being looked at. Stay tuned folks!

1:47AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

It's the old adage: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And in the end, those at the News of the World felt themselves to be utterly beyond morality, or even legality.

1:40AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

Unfortunately, as long as there's a market for the tabloids there will be tabloids. As long as there are tabloids there will be tabloid journalists. It's a step in the right direction that "News of the World" has closed. Now there needs to be a continuing campaign to help the general public see that this kind of "news" is so harmful to us all at so many levels. It pollutes our minds and hearts as much as nuclear waste pollutes our planet. There's a real need for quality journalism that is accessible to many more people than those who read The Guardian or The Times.

1:06AM PDT on Jul 10, 2011

Fancy that!! Politicians blasting Murdoch !!
In Australia, politicians of both persuasions routinely and embarrassingly fawn at the feet of the "great man" !
And both, as far as I know, are silent on the Dirty Digger's current dilemma.

Shoukld you feel like telling Rupert directly what you think of the News of the World situation, look here .......

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/883/857/634/?z00m=20012224

After all, why would we expect journalists to behave ethically when their management clearly have no ethics whatsoever??

3:43AM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

Murdoch has no business in the news business. He is one of the most unethical indivduals to walk this planet. We should have laws that govern the interigty of the news we receive.

12:10AM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

Thanks for the article.

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