Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is still battling to keep secret a series of what Bloomberg News terms "new claims being made by victims of phone hacking at its News of the Worldtabloid in preparation for a group trial scheduled for February." News Corp., "the New York-based company controlled by Rupert Murdoch," the story notes, "is trying to move on from the scandal after the civil case and a parallel criminal probe that began last year revealed a cover up and led to the closure of the tabloid and the arrests of more than 60 people."
And no wonder. Who knows how far and deep this scandal goes? Another wrinkle in it comes to light almost every day. And yet, despite all the attention it has received, the story remains under-reported.
Rupert Murdoch is almost certainly the most powerful person in the most influential business on earth. And yet he is treated as a kind of innocent bystander to the criminal activity allegedly undertaken in his name. In a column entitled "Journalism's Misdeeds Get a Glance in the Mirror," the New York Times's David Carr describes the following chain of events:
A division of a large multinational company is accused of a pattern of corporate misconduct that includes surveillance, hacking into phones and bribery of law enforcement officials. Dozens of employees are arrested over the course of a year, and seven are charged in one day with grievous criminal conduct. Add in that the company seeks to cover up its actions at every turn, in some cases reportedly bribing law enforcement officials, while some of its political opponents are singled out for surveillance and black ops. Let's further stipulate that the company may just be the most visible perpetrator in an industry that has lost its way.
Carr was speaking specifically about the most recent developments in the ongoing investigation and prosecution of Murdoch's lieutenants, which has now extended to criminal charges leveled against seven former News Corp. executives including Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, both former editors of News of the World. As Carr notes, with some credulity:
If this happened in any other industry -- the banking sector during the financial crisis, the oil companies after the BP spill, or Blackwater during the Iraq war -- you would expect to see a full-court press by journalists seeking to shine a light on a corrupt culture allowed to run amok.
Well, maybe. In fact it would all depend on who was connected to whom and how. After all, if a news organization were owned by, or had reason to fear retaliation from, the potential subject of an investigation, these days its reporting might not go down that way. Recall that the editor of The Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, took the exceedingly unusual step of phoning Bill Keller at The New York Times about The Guardian's incredible scoops on the phone hacking scandal because nobody else would touch the story and he couldn't figure out why.The New York Times stepped up to the proverbial plate but most of the rest of the media continue to ignore it.
Meanwhile, the hacking scandal just keeps growing in scale and shock value.
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