Murdoch’s Properties Go On The Offensive

News Corp. is embroiled in a legal and ethics scandal in the U.K., and closure of the newspaper at the heart of the mess, News of the World (NOTW), has done nothing to contain the damage. News Corp. reportedly generates about 75 percent of its revenue in the U.S, and its two flagship American properties, FOX News and the Wall Street Journal, have both gone on the offensive.

WSJ: “Deluded dishonest whining victimology”

The unsigned editorial (Paul Gigot is the editorial page editor) in Monday’s Wall Street Journal has as its sub-head: A tabloid’s excesses don’t tarnish thousands of other journalists. I’ve not read such a claim, and the author doesn’t provide evidence that anyone has made it. This argument is a form of logical fallacy known as a straw man, and there are other red herrings sprinkled throughout the editorial.

In the view of the WSJ, the (apparent) turning-an-almost-blind-eye by investigators (after all, two people were jailed in 2007) is worse than the crime itself and worse than, one supposes, the passing along of favors and money that led to any blind eyes.

At least three British investigations into phone-hacking and payments to police and others by the now-shuttered News of the World tabloid are underway, with 10 arrests so far. News Corp. and its executives have apologized profusely and are cooperating with authorities. Phone-hacking is illegal, and it is up to British authorities to enforce their laws. If Scotland Yard failed to do so adequately when the hacking was first uncovered several years ago, then that is more troubling than the hacking itself.

Ah. Ten arrests so far. How many were News Corp. employees? At least seven were NOTW reporters and editors. The others – NOTW hired hands.* Arrests so often do lead to “cooperation” don’t they.

On Twitter, New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen summed up the editorial:

Deluded dishonest whining victimology delivered in the form of a Wall Street Journal editorial on the phone hacking crisis

The impetus for the editorial is vaguely related to Friday’s resignation of Les Hinton, for almost four years the CEO of Dow Jones, which publishes the WSJ. Before coming to this side of the pond, Hinton ran the News Corp. British newspaper division during the years of the phone hacking.

The editorial should be read as an example of what not to do. The Washington Post makes some of the same points in a more reasonable manner, although it doesn’t convince me, either.

It should also come as no surprise that the first interview Rupert Murdoch granted since the scandal broke went to … the Wall Street Journal.

FOX News: From Perp To Victim, Reframing News of the World Hacking

James Fallows (The Atlantic) brought this gem to my attention: last week FOX News commentators managed to frame NOTW as a victim of computer hacking, based on the juxtaposition of stories about hacking into the Pentagon, Citicorp, Bank of America and American Express. Now that’s spin!

There are two problems with making NOTW and News Corp the meat in this tasty cybercrime sandwich: News Corp orchestrated (it’s the perp, not the victim) the hacking, which was of cell phone voice mail, not computer systems housing social security numbers, bank accounts and other personal data.

What is fascinating (in a train wreck sorta way) is that FOX presents the story as one about computer security and then turns to a PR guy, Bob Dilenschneider, as the on-air “expert.” Dilenschneider used to run Hill and Knowlton, one of the largest PR firms in the world. It’s the PR guy who obfuscates by introducing Citicorp, Bank of America and American Express. “We’ve got a serious hacking problem in this country,” Dilenschneider affirms, “and we’ve got to figure out a way to deal with this hacking problem.” Wow!

Oh. And like the WSJ editorial, FOX presents poor News Corp a victim of media who “pile it on” according to Dilenschneider and FOX and Friends host Steve Doocy .

Oh. And “all those people” at NOTW got fired, Doocy said, “even though 99% of them had nothing to do with it.” [There's another logical fallacy for you - great attempt at misdirection, don't you think?]

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* Who Has Been Arrested In The NOTW Scandal?

  1. 2007: Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator (convicted)
  2. 2007: Clive Goodman, formal royal editor (convicted)
  3. April 2011: Ian Edmondson, news editor (arrested)
  4. April 2011: Neville Thurlbeck, chief reporter (arrested)
  5. April 2011: James Weatherup, NOTW position unknown (arrested)
  6. June 2011: Terenia Taras, a freelancer for the News of the World (arrested)
  7. June 2011: An unnamed reporter from the Press Association (arrested)
  8. Number 8: unknown as of this writing
  9. July 8, 2011: Andy Coulson, former News of the World editor who became P.M. David Cameron’s press spokesman (arrested)
  10. July 17, 2011 : Rebekah Brooks, News International CEO (arrested)

If you bought ‘em, use ‘em seems to be the philosophy.

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  • http://uspolitics.about.com/ KATHY GILL, Technology Policy Analyst

    One More From FOX: Revisionist History, Domestic “Terror” Under Bush the Junior

    I avoid cries about partisanship on FOX News, but I firmly believe in the adage “you don’t get to make up your own facts.” This is a blatant, off-the cuff un-truism. Here’s the money quote, from Eric Bolling (13 July):

    Whether they did or didn’t [find WMDs], America was certainly safe between 2000 and 2008. I don’t remember any terrorist attacks on American soil during that period of time. Hold on, let’s move on.

    Somehow, a discussion about the debt ceiling turned into allegations of fear-mongering by Obama and none by Bush … which led to the Weapons of Mass Destruction (fear-mongering) charge … followed by (paraphrased) “but all those Democrats voted for it” [Iraq invasion] and then Bolling’s outrageous assertion. Which, by the way, isn’t retracted or acknowledged in real time. Nor does anyone point out that Clinton was president in 2000, not Bush. Oh, and Bolling made his way to FOX via the WS trading floor.

    Forget for a moment that the pivotal moment of the Bush Administration, when his approval rating was in the toilet, came on 9/11/2001. What about … anthrax and the USPS (October 2001)Richard Reid the shoe-bomber (December 2001)? There are 15 of instances of domestic terrorism documented in the 2001-2008 documented at Wikipedia.

    The next day, Bolling said “Obviously, I meant in the aftermath of 9/11” — which is still wrong. Domestic terrorism was alive and well before Bush came into office and it is still alive and well. Perhaps he meant “perpetuated by foreigners”? That would be false, too, according to this Bush State Department (pdf).

  • ShannonLeee

    They are also buying headline space on different major websites… yahoo for instance.

    They are paying to have Murdoch friendly headlines on front pages everywhere.

  • DORIAN DE WIND

    And the beat goes on—no pun intended:

    Breaking News Alert
    The New York Times
    Monday, July 18, 2011 — 9:28 AM EDT
    —–

    Another Top Police Official Resigns in British Scandal

    Britain’s phone hacking crisis claimed another major victim on Monday when John Yates, the deputy commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police, resigned.

    Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday cut short an African trip and ordered a special parliamentary session to debate the widening phone-hacking scandal.

    Read More:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/19/world/europe/19hacking.html?hp&emc=na

  • Allen

    I find it comforting that the authorities have been investigating this for at least five years. It might mean they have a boat load of evidence for the prosecution. I just hope when this is all over that Harris Faulkner is still on the tube presenting the news somewhere.

  • http://uspolitics.about.com/ KATHY GILL, Technology Policy Analyst

    Hi, Dorian – thanks, I had intended to add that as a comment. I couldn’t figure out how to make it fit into the article.

  • DORIAN DE WIND

    Hi Kathy. Did not mean to “steal your thunder.”

    But, I am afraid there will many more violent thunderstorms to report on this issue :)

  • StockBoyLA

    Allen: “I find it comforting that the authorities have been investigating this for at least five years. It might mean they have a boat load of evidence for the prosecution.”

    And if the Bush administration were investigating and handling he evidence they would have lost whatever incomplete evidence they managed to pull together as well as destroy the video tapes. ;)

    Let’s hope the British investigators aren’t as inept as those in the Bush administration or they are not taking kickbacks or bribes. Oh… wait….

  • http://uspolitics.about.com/ KATHY GILL, Technology Policy Analyst

    No thunder stolen!

    StockBoyLA – I don’t find it comforting because it sounds like the initial investigation was either shoddy/incomplete or swept under a rug.