With apologies to the Village People, much has been made of Rupert Murdoch’s month-us horribilis over the News of The World mobile phone hacking scandal. Serious questions now arise over whether or not the taint will stain his US holdings, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post or FOX News. Last night’s resignation of Britain’s top police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson was because links to News International overshadowed his work. Said Stephenson to The Independent, “I will not lose sleep over my personal integrity.” This string of high profile scalps, made it a very real possibility that this scandal could reach into and destroy Murdoch’s News Corporation.
A normally quiet weekend became a non-stop news roller-coaster, with Friday’s resignations of Murdoch favourite and rising star Rebekah Brooks, the former head of newspapers for Murdoch and NotTW editor during the time of the phone hackings. Then came the retirement of Les Hinton, who abruptly ended a 52-year career by Murdoch’s side as head of The Wall Street Journal, he was also tainted by the scandal after a stint at NoTW.
The other shoe then spectacularly dropped. After resigning on Friday, Ms. Brooks was “arrested by appointment” after meeting with police in a London station noon Saturday. This got the press wondering if this was her “get out of testifying before parliament free” card and whether or not a deal was in the works to get her to deliver higher-up scalps?
In any event, the scandal came closer to the front door of and now in honour-bound Britain, the very real possibility the Conservative Government of Prime Minister David Cameron could be forced to resign over the scandal, despite there being reason to believe both senior parties may have had inappropriate contact with Murdoch’s senior executives.
Not even the Native American or the Construction Worker can save Young Man, David Cameron. He cut short his Africa trip because of the scandal. Simply, it’s difficult to have News International staff in your denial gun-sights when you hire one of them as your chief press spokesman and are seen entertaining the rest at Chequers, your official country residence.
And the FCPA? It’s the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and that could become the 2011 version of old US Fed “wire and mail fraud” and “tax evasion” statutes that brought down many a 1930s-50s gangster. Since convictions for murder were usually tainted by witness intimidation and murder themselves, these paperwork statutes had real teeth. Guys who ruled with guns were brought down by green eyeshade bean counters.
The FCPA is a brilliant law that:
“was enacted for the purpose of making it unlawful for certain classes of persons and entities to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business.”
It has strong enough teeth and penalties that any senior officer tainted in the UK phone hacking scandal could call into repute a company’s overall system of corporate governance. This would trigger investigations by the SEC, FCC and other regulatory bodies on the basis of the fitness of the Murdoch family to own or control entities such US crown jewels as FOX News, The Wall Street Journal and the empire, which is in serious trouble, could come tumbling down altogether.
And to the many enemies Murdoch has seemingly gained through his decades of intimidation and bullying, these seem to be gleeful “just desserts.” Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks are learning the hard way that ‘karma is a bitch,’ and lots of people on both sides of the Pond like ‘dem apples.
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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