As a progressive who abhors the unprecedented and frighting hold Murdoch holds over Fox News, and by extension the radical Religious Right in the US, his fall from power as Britain’s “uncrowned king” can’t come soon enough. And with the latest news breaking that millions of emails pertinent to the scandal might have been deleted by a News International executive, it’s possible the scandal may jump the pond and take a few of Murdoch’s US institutions down AND even a family member or two. Oh, I hope so. I do hope so.
And now, Andy Coulson has been arrested: he’s the former spokesman to British Prime Minister David Cameron who was formerly a News of the World editor connected to the “phone hacking” story. It seems that he had a brush with trouble back in 2007; that time it was the “royal family voicemails” story, but it seems that it’s really all one big, long, sordid tale of unscrupulous people easvesdropping on private conversations electronically.
In Britain this weekend, the knives are out for the billionaire “faux news” master manipulator; previously no one was willing to take him on because they feared having their personal scandals rooted out and splashed on the front pages of Murdoch’s papers. He made his way to the UK for the closing of the News of the World; as an Australian, he can’t vote in British elections, but lots of people resent him for the huge amount of “pull” he has there in politics. They’re speaking out against him and his media empire, and are calling for more investigations. These inquiries will likely result in prison for the small fry and the middling managers, but probably not for the top executives and family members that run News International and the other media properties it owns in the UK.
Only a few days ago, the “phone hacking” scandal reached a new peak when it was revealed that the voicemail of a murder-kidnap victim was accessed, and families of servicemembers killed in Afghanistan had good reason to suspect that their anguish had become fodder for a sleazy “private investigator” who generated tips and stories for the News of the World weekly newspaper, based on the information he got from listening to their messages. This one person’s actions caused the closure of the “NoW”, a168-year-old newspaper when it became just too toxic a brand… and everyone working there is out of a job. The last Sunday issue has been published, the last desk has been hammered on (“banging out” a departing colleague is a Fleet Street tradition), the last round has been paid for at the Cape pub by editor Colin Myler.
Britain has had enough of Rupert Murdoch, and of News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, who comes off as the Red Queen to Murdoch’s Humpty Dumpty. It’s unlikely they’ll be going on any cozy pub crawls to Cotswold gastropubs again.
…But it’s an upside-down world that will greet media kingpin Rupert Murdoch when he arrives in London for an expected visit Sunday as he personally takes on the battle to keep an explosive phone-hacking scandal at one of his tabloids from sinking the rest of his business interests.
Almost overnight, open season has been declared on Murdoch, with politicians once too afraid to criticize him now lining up to rail against the Australian-born billionaire and his vast media holdings. The effect has been of a dam bursting in a country whose people are famed for their reticence.
"We have let one man have far too great a sway over our national life," Chris Bryant, a member of the Labor Party, declared in Parliament.
"No other country would allow one man to garner four national newspapers, the second-largest broadcaster, a monopoly on sports rights and first-view movies," Bryant told his fellow lawmakers last week. "America, the home of the aggressive entrepreneur, doesn’t allow it. We shouldn’t."
The stunning reversal of fortune for Murdoch, 80, comes amid a criminal probe into the News of the World, a weekly tabloid that has been accused of hacking into the cellphones of possibly thousands of people in its single-minded pursuit of sensational stories.
Britons who shrugged when the targets were identified as movie stars and athletes arose in mass indignation last week over allegations that the tabloid also accessed voicemails left for a kidnapped 13-year-old girl who was later found slain. The relatives of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq may also have had their phones hacked.
To limit the damage, News International, the British arm of Murdoch’s giant News Corp., abruptly decided to shut down the News of the World, a 168-year-old publication that was to put out its last issue Sunday. (Its final front-page message: "THANK YOU & GOODBYE.")
Fantastic. The Guardian has an entire archive of stories on this, as it’s been working the story for months, if not years.
Now then… who’s looking at Murdoch‘s media in the US? A girl’s gotta hope.