18 July 2011

News Corp Scandal Grows: Death and Resignations

Photo by Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

From Denny: As Billionaire Tabloid Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch seeks to fend off the media and investigation sharks, more drama unfolds day by day. Here's the current tally:

* Sir Paul Stephenson, the top police official, resigned once allegations surfaced he employed some pricey folks from News Corp as advisers to the UK's Scotland Yard at the steep price of $1,700 a day. Sign me up on that assignment.

* Next on the resignation chopping block today is John Yates, the London police commissioner. He was in charge of an investigation back in 2006, looking into illegal telephone intercepts by NotW. Obviously, he did a good job of burying that investigation for Murdoch.

9/11 victims may have been hacked

* On this side of the Atlantic in America there are as yet unsubstantiated allegations that a private investigator and a former New York City police officer were offered payments for sending information about 9/11 victims News Corp's way. If found to be true, those guys had better move to another planet as the entire city might erupt.

From Rep. Peter King (R-NY) who chairs the Homeland Security Committee and usually is a general nuisance (polite term): "If these allegations are proven true," as he wrote to FBI Director Robert Mueller, "the conduct would merit felony charges for attempting to violate various federal statutes related to corruption of public officials and prohibitions against wiretapping.”

Senators John Rockefeller (D-WV), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) have all called for an investigation as well.

Current results of Scotland Yard investigation:

So far, the Scotland Yard investigation of phone hacking by News Corp has found:
* 3,870 names of people hacked
* 5,000 land-line phone numbers hacked
* 4,000 cell phone numbers hacked

Wall Street Journal journalism reduced to tabloid garbage journalism

From Newsweek senior writer Nick Summers, quoted in The Daily Beast about employees at the Wall Street Journal, another Murdoch publication: “In the last week and a half, reporters and editors at the august Journal have had to come to terms with the fact that they share corporate DNA with publications that have paid police for news, paid large settlements to keep phone-hacking victims quiet, and provided Parliament with incomplete information, among other sins against journalism.”

From New York Times columnist Joe Nocera when Murdoch took over the Wall Street Journal in 2007: “Soon came the changes, swift and sure: shorter articles, less depth, an increased emphasis on politics and, weirdly, sometimes surprisingly unsophisticated coverage of business.”

“Along with the transformation of a great paper into a mediocre one came a change that was both more subtle and more insidious. The political articles grew more and more slanted toward the Republican party line. The Journal was turned into a propaganda vehicle for its owner’s conservative views.”

Whistleblower found dead

Former News Of The World reporter and whistleblower found dead. Sean Hoare was a showbiz reporter for the defunct paper. Police say nothing is suspicious about his death. Who believes that? The whistleblower is found dead as soon as the resignations start. His death is publicly declared no big deal by the very police he and other reporters used to bribe regularly for years.

What was his story? Hoare talked to the New York Times last year where he related that then News Of The World editor, recently arrested Andy Coulson who was a former aide to PM Cameron, told Hoare to continue phone hacking. Of course, Coulson has claimed he was unaware of the phone hacking.

More recently, The Guardian newspaper talked to Hoare where he informed them about the practice of "pinging." It was a regular practice of where News Of The World reporters would ask a news desk executive to get the location of a targeted person, yes, phone hacking their location.

Said Hoare: "You'd just go to the news desk and they'd just come back to you. You don't ask any questions. You'd consider it a job done. The chain of command is one of absolute discipline and that's why I never bought into it, like with Andy saying he wasn't aware of it and all that. That's bollocks."

Hoare also told The Guardian he "hoped the scandal will lead to changes in journalism. There's more to come. This is not going to go away."
News Corp is charged with regularly bribing police officers and illegally listened to phone conversations. Since 1 June the mega company, News Corporation, has lost over $7 billion in stock value. Will they also be charged with killing whistleblower Sean Hoare?

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