The multi-front controversy surrounding global media baron Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp continues with breathtaking speed — even posing a challenge too quickly to update blog. The latest: Scotland Yard’s Chief has quit over the phone hacking scandal:
The commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police Services, Sir Paul Stephenson, resigned his post on Sunday just hours after his officers arrested Rebekah Brooks, the former chief of Rupert Murdoch’s media operations in Britain, as damage from a phone-hacking scandal moved to the highest levels of British public life.
In a news conference, Sir Paul said his position was “in danger of being eclipsed by the ongoing debate by senior officers and the media. And this can never be right,” according to a report by The Guardian.
Here’s his full statement.
Meanwhile, there are now allegations that Jude Law was a victim of News Corp. hacking — here in the United States. Which could mean Murdoch will face problems with his U.S. owned stations. Prediction: if that happens watch some try to turn this into a political issue rather than a media ethics issue claiming it’s all part of a political plot. The Telegraph:
The News of the World allegedly hacked into the mobile phones of Jude Law and his personal assistant while they were in New York, opening the way for News International to be prosecuted in the United States.
In the first specific example of a case of hacking on US soil, it has emerged that the actor and his assistant, Ben Jackson, were allegedly targeted shortly after arriving at New York’s JFK airport.
Their mobile telephones were operating on American networks, meaning that regardless of where the alleged hacker was based, American law would apply.
It would leave News International open to claims that it broke US federal laws and also pave the way for costly lawsuits.
The allegation comes after it was announced that the FBI has opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that Rupert Murdoch’s company tried to hack into the phones of victims of the September 11 attacks.
So now the question becomes? What (if anything) next for Rupert Murdoch? Our Quote of the Day is from The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta:
In the United Kingdom, Murdoch and his son James will have to tell a Parliamentary committee on Tuesday what they knew and when they knew it. More than that, they will have to try to rescue their company from multiple government onslaughts and criminal investigations from members of Parliament who think they must impose curbs on News Corp.’s ownership of newspapers and television and sports in England, and from shareholders who claim they have been cheated.
In the United States, News Corp., as an American company, will, among other things, have to explain why it has not violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it unlawful to pay bribes to government officials overseas—a proscription that includes the London police; whether the New York Post (or any of the company’s British newspapers) hacked into the mail or phone calls of celebrities in this country or of the families of 9/11 victims; and why their unethical behavior does not disqualify them under F.C.C. rules that require that those who license TV stations must be of solid moral character. Les Hinton, the head of Dow Jones and one of Murdoch’s senior executives in this country, has already resigned. (I wrote about Hinton’s departure on Friday.)
Murdoch’s influence with government officials here and abroad will not help him escape this time. In the current environment, will politicians, even those who courted him in the past, want be seen at his side, or risk their careers to come to his aid? The dam has sprung multiple leaks, and Rupert Murdoch doesn’t have enough fingers to stop the gushing water.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.