THE SLIME UNWINDS; MURDOCH MEDIA UNDER ATTACK By Danny Schecter

13 July 2011 — The News Dissector

The Murdoch Crime Syndicate: The Latest

Murdoch, savaged in parliament, pulls BSkyB bid

LONDON (Reuters) – Rupert Murdoch withdrew his bid for British broadcaster BSkyB on Wednesday in the face of cross-party hostility in parliament following allegations of widespread criminality at one of his tabloid newspapers.

The move pre-empted by a couple of hours a planned vote in parliament that had all-party support for a non-binding motion urging the Australian-born media magnate to drop a buyout offer which was a major part of his global expansion in television

‘News Corp announces that it no longer intends to make an offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of … BSkyB not already owned by it,’ the U.S.-listed parent of the global media empire said.

News Corp owns 39 percent of BSkyB, which owns Sky News and a range of profitable pay-TV channels.

‘It has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate,’ deputy chairman Chase Carey said in a statement, adding that News Corp would remain ‘a committed long-term shareholder.’

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has faced awkward questions about his own relations with Murdoch, welcomed the news: ‘The business should focus on clearing up the mess and getting its own house in order,’ he said through a spokesman.

Opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was a victory for those who had opposed the extension of Murdoch’s power.

Earlier, Cameron told parliament Murdoch should drop the bid while police investigated allegations that the News of the World hacked the voicemails of thousands of people looking for stories and also bribed police officers for information.

The press baron, who for decades has been both feared and courted by British politicians of all parties, shut down the 168-year-old Sunday tabloid last week in an effort to stem the scandal and save the BSkyB bid. But there was no stopping the flow of allegations and it had looked politically untenable.

Summoning a degree of national unity rarely seen outside times of war, all parties were due to endorse a motion later on Wednesday in parliament that was to urge Murdoch to drop it. It was unclear if that formal vote would now go ahead, after hours of debate in which hostility to Murdoch was unanimous.

GOVERNMENT OPPOSITION

The four-sentence statement, highlighting News Corp’s commitment to BSkyB, leaves the door open to a new offer to buy out the other shareholders at some point in the future, although many months of police investigation and a public inquiry will keep the scandal alive for a good time yet.

Chris Marangi, portfolio manager at Gabelli Multimedia Funds, which holds shares in News Corp, said: ‘This is not surprising, it doesn’t mean the desire’s not there.

‘It’s politically savvy, and he needs to buy his time and let this blow over … At the time, it’s circle the wagons and protect existing operations.’

Several former employees of Murdoch’s British newspaper unit News International have been arrested this year after police reopened inquiries which they had dropped in 2007 following the conviction of the News of the World’s royal correspondent.

Those under suspicion of phone hacking and of bribing police include former editor Andy Coulson, whom Cameron hired as his spokesman in 2007 after the hacking scandal first broke. Coulson left the prime minister’s office in January and, like other News of the World staff, denies knowing of any wrongdoing.

In the most senior departure from the organization since Coulson, the legal manager of News International, Tom Crone, has left the company, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. He has been closely involved in the company’s defense.

That for years consisted of blaming the ‘rogue reporter’ jailed in 2007 but has shifted to accept possibly wider problems since police renewed their investigation under public pressure.

Cameron told a stormy weekly questions session in parliament that Murdoch should drop the bid: ‘What has happened at the company is disgraceful. It’s got to be addressed at every level and they should stop thinking about mergers when they’ve got to sort out the mess they’ve created.’

Facing new questions about why he hired Coulson, Cameron repeated that he had believed his assurances of innocence. But he warned that his former aide, if found to have lied to him, ‘should like others face the full force of the law.’

Giving details of a formal public inquiry into the affair, to be chaired by a senior judge, Brian Leveson, Cameron said that senior executives, however high in the Murdoch organization, should be barred for life from the British media if found to have taken part in any wrongdoing.
Cameron has previously said Rebekah Brooks, Coulson’s predecessor at the News of the World and now Murdoch’s close aide as chief executive of News International, should quit. Brooks has been a frequent guest at Cameron’s country home.

Human Rights Watch Reports:

Media Emperor’ Murdoch-The Dirt Keeps On Coming

Human Wrongs Watch

Rupert Murdoch, the visible head of one of the world’s most influential media empires, who is reported as having been shaping the policies of the United Kingdom and others, is now trying to wash his group’s dirty linen. Shall he succeed also this time?

Silvia Swinden filed the following report from London for Pressenza*: It started with the News of the World’s royal editor and a private investigator who intercepted voice mail messages left for members of the royal household.

Both men were jailed in 2007. Illegal voice mail interceptions apparently continued, implicating other journalists and staff. Now James Murdoch, Rupert’s son has closed the newspaper.

In July 2011, further allegations were made that the News of the World hacked into the voice mails of murder victim Milly Dowler (and deleted messages creating a false hope for the family that she was alive and listening to her messages), as well as victims of the 7/7 attacks and relatives of deceased British soldiers.

Let Him Go?

In spite of being warned (according to reports) by the Deputy Prime Minister about former Editor of News of the World Andy Coulson’s involvement in the phone hacking affair, Prime Minister David Cameron appointed him as his communications director – and had to ‘let him go’ when his links to the scandal became public knowledge.

By March 2010, the paper had spent over £2 million settling court cases with victims of phone hacking. In July 2009, The Guardian newspaper made a series of allegations of wider phone hacking activities at the News of the World newspaper, that were aimed at other celebrities.

Ministers, Military Chiefs, Footballers…

The list of possible victims broadened to include ministers, a Member of Parliament, military chiefs, leading media figures, top footballers and other celebrities.

James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch’s son has closed the newspaper after a call to examine its use of private investigators to gain access to the mobile phone messages of a variety of celebrities and public figures of interest to the newspaper, by using phone hacking.

An assistant Police commissioner responsible for overseeing Scotland Yard inquiry into such practices has left the police to work for News International (Murdoch’s media empire) as a columnist for The Times.

Murdoch’s Vast Empire

Outside of the UK, Murdoch’s News Corporation owns a multitude of news outlets in the United States, including the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and the Fox News Channel.

Even though none of News Corporation’s US outlets have yet been implicated in the scandal, several media critics have called for investigations into whether they too engaged in phone hacking activities.

Private Phone Records of Dead People?

According to Mirror (http://www.mirror.co.uk/2011/07/11/phone-hacking-9-11-victims-may-have-had-mobiles-tapped-by-news-of-the-world-reporters-115875-23262694) a former New York policeman reported that News of the World also attempted to retrieve private phone records of those who died in the September 11 terrorist attack.

There is a great deal of information published mainly by the Guardian newspaper, ie, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/10/news-international-cover-up-police. Wikipedia keeps a detailed log as events unfold, although information is uploaded without checking for accuracy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_of_the_World_phone_hacking_affair

Institue for Public Accuracy: Comments

KEVIN ZEESE,attorney and spokesperson for the government accountability group Protect Our Elections, which is ‘urging the FBI and the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] to launch parallel criminal and civil investigations into Rupert Murdoch’s media empire in the United States for possible prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal in the United Kingdom.’

Zeese wrote a letter Monday to the FBI and SEC describing the extent of the phone hacking as ‘staggering’ and pointed to recent revelations by News Corp executives that its employees have engaged in ‘widespread obstruction of justice, bribery and destruction of evidence.’

‘It is clear that News Corp has violated the [Foreign Corrupt Practices] Act on an industrial scale,’ the letter said. ‘Rupert Murdoch moved to the U.S. and became an American citizen in 1985 in order to take advantage of our laws yet his company under his leadership has blatantly violated American law by bribing foreign officials in order to increase revenues.’ Zeese appeared on the program Democracy Now this morning: http://www.democracynow.org/2011/7/13/the_murdoch_empire_could_be_undone

ANTONY LOEWENSTEIN, an independent journalist and author in Sydney, Australia. He recently appeared on Al-Jazeera English, stating that in his native Australia, Murdoch ‘Controls 70 percent of the print press. … There’s virtually no transparency between Murdoch’s empire and the political elite. … On a weekly basis, the Murdoch tabloids in Australia and around the world publish information that is ethically suspect.’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pjg2-kGgk50

Background: Noted financial investigative reporter David Cay Johnston writes: ‘Over the past four years Murdoch’s U.S.-based News Corp. has made money on income taxes. Having earned $10.4 billion in profits, News Corp. would have been expected to pay $3.6 billion at the 35 percent corporate tax rate. Instead, it actually collected $4.8 billion in income tax refunds, all or nearly all from the U.S. government.’ http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/12/column-dcjohnston-murdoch-idUSN1E76A1NH20110712

See FAIR blog: ‘Could Hack Scandal Spell Trouble for Murdoch’s U.S. TV Licenses?’ and ‘Fox Media Show Skips Murdoch Scandal’ http://www.fair.org/blog/tag/rupert-murdoch

Also: Billy Bragg’s brand new song ‘Never Buy The Sun’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1P6KUyOhBc

OP ED NEWS: News Corp. Paid No Taxes After Profiting $10B (Yet Rec’d $4.5B In Refunds)

Over the last four years, the Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp conglomerate earned $10 billion dollars and received $4.5 billion in federal refunds after paying zero taxes.

By Michael Collins?Is News Corp Finished – Senator Rockefeller Tells Feds to Investigate Fox Hacking of 9/11 Victims

Jay Rockefeller raises the key question about Rupert Murdoch – is he as big a monster over here as he is in the United Kingdom? Did Murdoch’s US operations behave like his UK operations. Good question.

This is an ongoing story and I will continue to report it although it is hard to find fresh angles here.

A SIGN OF THE TIMES? Unbelievable!

Your comments to: Dissector@mediachannel.org

One thought on “THE SLIME UNWINDS; MURDOCH MEDIA UNDER ATTACK By Danny Schecter

  1. Baher Kanal says:

    Hi, just to clarify that the side-header that says: Human Rights Watch Reports, should rather read Human Wrongs Watch, which has filed this story. Otherwise, good job, many thanks and good luck,
    Baher Kamal, Editor, Human Wrongs Watch – http://human-wrongs-watch.net

    Media Emperor’ Murdoch-The Dirt Keeps On Coming

    Human Wrongs Watch

    Rupert Murdoch, the visible head of one of the world’s most influential media empires, who is reported as having been shaping the policies of the United Kingdom and others, is now trying to wash his group’s dirty linen. Shall he succeed also this time?

    Like

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