Les Hinton, chairman of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, and Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper operations, both resigned Friday over connections to the now-defunct News of the World’s recent phone hacking scandal amid what’s shaping up to be a major fallout for the embattled Australian’s international media empire.
In addition to Friday’s high-profile departures, Murdoch personally apologized to the family of slain British teenager Milly Dowler, whose voice mail was hacked by his reporters, and Saturday will run full page advertisements apologizing for wrongdoing to the British public. This comes after both he and son James, who oversaw the operation of News of the World, agreed Thursday to face questioning by the British Parliament, which by tradition does not require those testifying to swear an oath to tell only the truth, though Parliament can and may demand it. With the FBI now investigating whether or not Murdoch’s News Corp. attempted to hack the telephones of 9/11 victims, and reports resurfacing of a former Fox News executive’s claim that Fox News President Roger Ailes outfitted the company’s New York headquarters with the ability to access American telephone records, one wonders whether this is the beginning of a massive unveiling of global criminal activity up through the highest levels of Murdoch’s corporation.
Many hope so. But D.D. Guttenplan at The Nation is not yet convinced. In an article published this week, he points out that Murdoch and his associates have been able to get away with their villainy over the years by purchasing the very people who would be and are in charge of such investigations. For the past four decades, Murdoch the “puppet master” has built a “private intelligence service” for himself, and his vast network cannot easily be unraveled. —ARK
D.D. Guttenplan at The Nation:
Parliament’s success in forcing Murdoch’s hand suggests that the puppets may have turned on the puppet master—at least in Britain. Can Americans dare hope that Murdoch’s political influence in the United States is also on the wane? A world without Fox News would be a fairer (if not more balanced) world in every sense. But as the widening revelations of the phone-hacking scandal show, News Corporation is not an ordinary commercial enterprise. Through his journalists and gossip columnists and the network of former and current police officers and law enforcement officials on his payroll, Rupert Murdoch has been operating what amounts to a private intelligence service. And the threat of personal exposure—on the front page of the Sun or Page Six in the Post—gives News Corporation a kind of leverage over inquisitive regulators or troublesome politicians wielded by no other company on earth.
English already has the expression “para-state” to describe the kind of shadowy forces that operate beneath and behind legitimate authority. Is it really unreasonable to suggest that in News Corporation, Fox, News International, Sky and the rest of Murdoch’s empire, we are witnessing the exposure of the para-corporation?
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