It is hard to stoop lower than the Murdoch crowd. The News of the World, Rupert’s hitherto money-generating tabloid, hired a private eye to delve into the voice mail of abducted thirteen-year-old Milly Dowler. The snooping started out by listening in to intensely private messages left by family members. It rapidly degenerated from there. The News of the World were hungry for more information, for more stories, so they intervened and deleted the messages, explains Nick Davies of The Guardian, which doggedly persisted in its investigation of Murdochian malpractices. Well, of course, for the family and friends who were calling in and had heard the voice mailbox was full, suddenly, it wasnt full anymore. So naturally enough, they concluded that Milly herself had deleted her messages. Therefore, she was still aliveand she wasnt. The News of the World shenanigans are only symptomatic of a deeper rot in Murdoch’s fiefdom.
“This is the culture of News Corp, says media analyst Ryan Chittum of Murdochs media empire. Its well known. This is a particularly sick manifestation of it. The recent revelations in Britain have unearthed a nexus between Murdochs media, politicians and the police that is mindboggling. For instance, British Prime Minister David Cameron hired as his communication secretary an editor at the heart of this darkness. Andy Coulson has been arrested for questioning about his role in regular payoffs made to British cops in exchange for confidential information.
Does this let-principles-be-damned mentality infect Murdoch’s media holdings here in the United States, too? Theres evidence to suggest so, even without the explicit phone tapping. The New York Post, which may be unique even in the Murdoch stable for its ability to combine sleaze and rightwing politics, has portrayed the accuser of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn as a professional prostitute. And Fox has presented in the pursuit of its political agenda a news so distorted that its viewers are consistently misinformed, as a University of Maryland study found last December.
“Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely), most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points), the economy is getting worse (26 points), most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points), the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points), their own income taxes have gone up (14 points), the auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points), when TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points) and that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points),” the study discovered. The sordid transatlantic connections run deep for Murdochs holdings. Les Hinton, the chief executive of Dow Jones, which publishes the Wall Street Journal, was also allegedly involved in the cover-up of the News of the World scandal. Then there’s the question of the grand figure at the helm of the empire: How much did Rupert know?
There is some suggestion that Rupert and his son James were more informed than they’re letting on. To date, they have strongly resisted calls to fire Rebekah Brooks, a top executive at their corporation who was previously in the thick of things as an editor at the News of the World. There is possibly more to this than just a desire to protect a person who is a close family friend. If it was not resignation by agreement on both sides, Rebekah Brooks would have some very interesting insights about the Murdochs, Adam Price, a former member of Parliament who played a major role in the parliamentary investigation into the phone tapping, told the New York Times. She is the barrier. If you take her away, who is left? It is frightening that a man with such contemptible ethics has so much power to shape the news in this country.