A few Murdoch questions

By Felix Salmon
July 20, 2011
taking phone calls about Rupert Murdoch on Brian Lehrer's show this morning and then immediately doing an hour-long diavlog with Alex Massie on the subject, I'm beginning to get a little Murdoch-ed out. But there are three newish points which worth raising.

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After taking phone calls about Rupert Murdoch on Brian Lehrer’s show this morning and then immediately doing an hour-long diavlog with Alex Massie on the subject, I’m beginning to get a little Murdoch-ed out. But there are three newish points that are worth raising.

Firstly, what was the mechanism by which it was agreed that Rupert and James Murdoch would appear in parliament together? Having James by his side was a godsend for Rupert, and James clearly took his role as a shield for his father very seriously. I’m sure the more aggressive MPs would have preferred to be able to grill Rupert on his own, as they did Rebekah Brooks. How did that not happen?

Secondly, according to Michael Tomasky, there is a strong case that News Corp really could be prosecuted under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the US, were the Justice Department so inclined.

And thirdly, just check out the number of Murdoch defenses on the WSJ op-ed page over the past couple of days:

  • The original, notorious, anonymous op-ed;
  • A paean to Murdoch by Robert Pollock, the WSJ’s editorial features editor;
  • Bret Stephens arguing that the News of the World was less bad than the Guardian and the New York Times;
  • An argument by two former Justice employees that News Corp should not be prosecuted under the FCPA;
  • Holman Jenkins saying that phone-tapping was “tolerated, routine and abetted by official agencies”;
  • James Taranto attacking Joe Nocera’s complaints about the WSJ; and
  • James Taranto, again, the following day, attacking other Murdoch’s attackers, and clamoring for press freedom.

I’m sure that there will be many more to come. But I’m sure this is far from what the Bancrofts expected when Murdoch promised them that the WSJ would enjoy total editorial independence.

Update: Here’s Bloomberg’s Max Abelson on those WSJ defenses of News Corp; he not only did it better than me, he also did it faster.


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I’ve no real evidence to go back on but I’m willing to wager that had Rebekah Brooks not resign/been fired, she probably would have appeared in concert with the Murdochs.

The only real evidence I have to back up my assertion is the infamous 2003 video wherein Brooks (née Wade) appeared alongside Andy Coulsin and some other News International flacks.

Posted by GregHao | Report as abusive

“It’s probably inevitable that this column will be read in some quarters as shilling for Rupert Murdoch. Not at all: I have nothing but contempt for the hack journalism practiced by some of the Murdoch titles.”

I suppose the first sentence was more or less correct.

Posted by dWj | Report as abusive

Well News Corp could have inked an agreement to regurgitate the propaganda of a terror-supporting, nuclear weapon spreading, genocidal dictator:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/1 1/idUS127989+11-Jul-2011+HUG20110711

This is of course when Reuters is not mistranslating quotes, fabricating events and photoshopping pictures.

I guess they weren’t as lucky as the NYT to happen to have Tourre’s laptop, still streaming emails years after it was “lost”, working perfectly well but weirdly thrown in a dumpster.

There is also no nexus between the Guardian and the old new lab gov. Just because the Guardian make most of its revenues from gov advertising had zero impact on their reporting. Just like the BBC was so hard hitting, just a billion to one coincidence that Robert Peston was consistently following the UK Treasury line.

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive

@dWj of course Bret Stephens was shilling for Rupert Murdoch. Do you honestly believe he wasn’t?

Posted by FelixSalmon | Report as abusive

dWj, Mr Salmon obviously only has time for the worse than hack journalism practised at the FT, NYT, Propublica and Bloomberg.

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive

Danny_Black, if you do exist, do you have evidence that ANY of Propublica, FT, NYT or Bloomberg 1)illegally hacked into servers or cellphones to steal personal information for blackmail purposes, 2) bribed policed offiers and explicitly hired them in explicit quid pro quo arrangements to arrange for illegal theft of information; or 3)threatened heads of state to slant coverage to throw elections?

Links would be helpful – and just to be clear, it must be actual employees of the organizations, and expressly pre-authorized, paid contractors, to qualify.

Posted by Dollared | Report as abusive

Dollared, got any evidence that happened in News Corp?

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive

@Danny Black well there are all those pesky court documents that entailed the successful prosecution of News Corp employees at the News of the World publication circa 2007… do those not count in your echo chamber?

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive

CDN_Rebel, that they blackmailed people? That they bribed police officers to steal information? That they threatened heads of state into throwing elections?

This the court case you are talking about, please feel free to say where they actually ***proved*** what Dollared claimed:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/63012 43.stm

Of course, just making crap up and fabricating stories is much much better journalism – which the FT, NYT, FT, Bloomberg, Reuters and Propublica have done.

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive

and here we have the absolutely shocking possibility that the anti-NI campaign is being financed by Labour….:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/p hone-hacking/8656563/How-Labours-favouri te-lobbyist-is-pushing-hacking-campaign. html

Can’t believe it would be politically motivated.

Posted by Danny_Black | Report as abusive

I think it’s awesome, going through my feed reader, how the raging about News Corp. stops the minute it was revealed The Mirror (and many other non-News Corp. British Papers) was(were) being investigated.

Because the bartender didn’t lie to Hugh Grant and this was being done by everybody.

Posted by Piesmith | Report as abusive