Murdoch’s not concerned with spf block, rather a series of arrests by Scotland Yard that could place his ownership and operation of flagship tabloid newspaper The Sun and, perhaps, US-based FOX News in dire jeopardy. Having already lost The News of the World (NotW) tabloid last summer, we wrote at the start of the Levenson inquiry in August that Murdoch’s troubles could extend across the ocean under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Bribery convictions would trigger an almost immediate Justice Department investigation of the US media holdings FOX, WSJ, Daily News and others wondering if this was a systemic practice.
And since US Broadcast Licences cannot be held by companies with criminal convictions, that 1st real conviction (due shortly) triggers official interest in ownership by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). And… bribery payments, criminal activities and guilty convictions will draw the attention of the financial watchdog Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Add in allegations that UK tabloid phone hacking of celebrities Hugh Grant and Johnny Depp occurred whilst they were working in the USA… criminal trials in the US would be the cherry atop this robust Murdoch ‘shitstorm sandwich.’
Created by muckrakers inside News International and News Corp who were so ordered by their now invisible “see, hear, speak no (public) evil” bosses. Add in the case of the US supermarket advertising company driven out of business and subsequently bought out by Murdoch’s News Corp. and the US Congress will likely force them to explain their systemic pattern of abuse in hearings.
On UK telly, one can easily find live coverage of our ‘OJ Simpson trial.’ Daily, the current 87-episode adventure of the Levenson Inquiry on Culture Practice and Ethics of the Press; is beamed into homes across the land. Lord Justice Levenson ended module one (!) Friday and will reconvene in two weeks’ time to discuss the very cosy relationship between members of the press and police on sourcing. The police, sensing their own problems with the drip, drip, drip of their detailed dirty laundry in these hearings, have embarked on a remarkably well-timed series of high-level arrests in the phone hacking scandal.
Yet in an astonishing display of denial-filled hubris:
- the editors of London’s sleaziest celebrity baiting tabloids have paraded through the hearing and haughtily defended their practices,
- passed the buck to lower level (and therefore out-of-control executives), refused to apologise to celebrities (and instead demanded they apologise for defaming them – you can’t make this up!),
- demanded all journalists (but them) be held to high licensing standards (even though their so-called journalists would fail) and
- mostly skated by with only the slightest hint of contrition. And talking out of the other side of their mouths, they brazenly claimed any infringement of press freedoms or regulation (caused by their lack of control) would be the death-knell of the news industry. (You indeed cannot make this stuff up.)
Even blogger ‘Guido Fawkes’ aka Paul Staines was paraded before the commitee for publishing information sent to him before it was released in a hearing. Simply, the big players want to threaten the wider citizen journalism blogosphere the most because many do a much better and more thorough job, have lower costs and earn more money than they do with their bloated legacy cost structures. Even as circulation drops by 20% per year every year and their business model spectacularly fails, the audience in the hearing chamber see what the editors fail to see, these dinosaurs are already neck deep in the tar pit.
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Murdoch thought he could skate free. That is until The Sun had yet another series of senior editors arrested in the phone hacking case. News International has paid out millions of pounds in quiet settlements to politicians and celebrities in the NotW hacking scandal. But it’s been a horrible, very bad, no good week for him and it looks like Murdoch himself will now be forced to fly to the UK to address issues at the Sun. Having lost NotW he is determined to hang on to The Sun. But much like former US President George W. Bush cannot fly to Switzerland to give a speech out of fears of arrest on torture charges; Murdoch could face arrest and restrictions on his own travel for fear of him fleeing the UK.
The arrests of four lead Sun officials: Geoff Webster, deputy editor; John Kay, deputy editor; John Edwards, picture editor; Nick Parker, foreign correspondent and John Sturgis, deputy news editor in raids where they are suspected of bribing police and public officials, means the dyke is beginning to give way as ten reporters and editors have been arrested and face trial. Add in Rebekah Brooks of NotW and Andy Coulson who started this all and you have an even dozen litigants, and the conviction of any one of them would threaten US operations. Many watchers sense this tabloid may be shuttered as well.
If that happens, look for the News Corp and News Int’l boards to force 39% majority shareholder Rupert Murdoch into retirement and we watch the decline of an octogenarian who has only known the news business.
Real poetic justice? What if FOX News, the propaganda arm of the GOP, lost their broadcast licence because of FCPA ahead of the 2012 conventions and election? As the advertisers say… watch this space.
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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