Rebekah Brooks Resigns From Murdoch Org


In case you haven’t heard, Rebekah Brooks hasn’t had a good week. First, a newspaper started in 1843 was sacrificed on the alter of her career, and then Rupert Murdoch kicked her to the curb anyway.

In her farewell message, Ms. Brooks said: “At News International we pride ourselves on setting the news agenda for the right reasons

(click here to continue reading Rebekah Brooks Resigns From Murdoch’s British Subsidiary –

Nicely done – no mention of journalistic ethics, or reporting facts, still all about slant, and “setting the agenda”. A Murdoch loyalist until the end.

First Site of Scotland Yard
First Site of Scotland Yard

and The Metropolitan Police are a bit nervous too, as their corruption seems likely to be exposed:

The company’s woes increased on Thursday when yet another former senior editor of The News of the World, now defunct, Neil Wallis, became the ninth person since January to be arrested in the phone-hacking scandal. Mr. Wallis also appears to have unusually close ties to top officers at the Metropolitan Police Service, and worked for them as a public relations consultant last year.

Mr. Wallis’s arrest, while bad news for the company, is doubly worrying for the Metropolitan Police Service. The police are already under attack for failing to adequately pursue the phone-hacking inquiry in 2006, and again for failing to reopen the investigation in light of new evidence in 2009. While Mr. Wallis is not the most important figure yet to be arrested — that would be Mr. Coulson, a former editor of The News of the World who until January was Prime Minister Cameron’s chief spokesman — he is close to Scotland Yard.

After leaving The News of the World in 2009, Mr. Wallis became a media consultant, whereupon he was immediately hired to “provide strategic communication advice” to Scotland Yard officials from October 2009 to September 2010, according to a police spokesman. His firm offered the lowest rate, the spokesman said, explaining how he got the job.

But his ties to the police went back longer. In September 2006, one month after The News of the World’s royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, was arrested on suspicion of phone hacking and the paper Mr. Wallis worked for was supposedly under investigation, Mr. Wallis had dinner with Sir Paul Stephenson, then Scotland Yard’s deputy commissioner, and Dick Fedorcio, its chief spokesman.

Sir Paul, now the police commissioner, said on Thursday that he was “very satisfied with my own integrity.”

More recently, Assistant Commissioner John Yates, another top police official, told a parliamentary committee in March that he could not remember exactly when he last had lunch with Mr. Wallis, but that it “may well” have been in February.

A police spokesman said he did not know the precise date of this engagement. But if it was indeed in February, that meant that it took place after the police had already opened Operation Weeting, the investigation into phone hacking under which Mr. Wallis has now been arrested.

Evening Newspapers at Monument Station

Evening Newspapers at Monument Station

Ken Auletta of The New Yorker adds:

The only surprise in the resignation of Rebekah Brooks is that it took so long. She was the editor of the News of the World when a good deal of hacking was done, when police were paid bribes for documents and news tips. When she left the newsroom, she became the News Corp. executive responsible for overseeing at least one newspaper that continued these practices, as well as others that we may learn more about. And when she testified before Parliament, she offered misleading and contradictory answers. Yet she remained in place. When Rupert Murdoch flew to London last weekend to quarterback his company’s defense, a reporter asked: What’s your foremost concern?

He might have said, protecting my company’s good name. Or getting to the bottom of who was responsible for these dastardly acts. Instead, with Brooks standing beside him, he said: protecting this woman.

Why was Murdoch, who is not known for loyalty, so loyal to Brooks? Because outside of his family, Brooks is only one of two people he is said to treat as a genuine friend. His closest friend is Robert Thomson, editor of the Wall Street Journal and former editor of his London Times. (I wrote about Thomson for The New Yorker.) Although he is three decades younger than Murdoch, he is more of a peer. Brooks has been more of a daughter. And she is treated as a member of the family by many in the Murdoch brood. Letting her leave must have been personally painful.

But with Murdoch, business comes first.

(click here to continue reading News Desk: The Brooks Resignation: Business and Loyalty : The New Yorker.)

Business News-esque

Rupert Murdoch and his cozy relationship with power

Damn Tourists
Damn Tourists

More on the News of the World cellphone scandal, and on why Rupert Murdoch isn’t already in jail…

Let’s try a thought experiment. Let’s imagine that BP threw an extravagant party, with oysters and expensive champagne. Let’s imagine that Britain’s most senior politicians were there — including the Prime Minister and his chief spin doctor. And now let’s imagine that BP was the subject of two separate police investigations, that key BP executives had already been arrested, that further such arrests were likely, and that the chief executive was heavily implicated.

Let’s take this mental experiment a stage further: BP’s chief executive had refused to appear before a Commons enquiry, while MPs who sought to call the company to account were claiming to have been threatened. Meanwhile, BP was paying what looked like hush money to silence people it had wronged, thereby preventing embarrassing information entering the public domain.

And now let’s stretch probability way beyond breaking point. Imagine that the government was about to make a hugely controversial ruling on BP’s control over the domestic petroleum market. And that BP had a record of non-payment of British tax. The stench would be overwhelming. There would be outrage in the Sun and the Daily Mail — and rightly so — about Downing Street collusion with criminality. The Sunday Times would have conducted a fearless investigation, and the Times penned a pained leader. In parliament David Cameron would have been torn to shreds.

Instead, until this week there has been almost nothing, save for a lonely campaign by the Guardian. Because the company portrayed above is not BP, but News International, owner of the Times, the Sunday Times, the News of the World and the Sun, approximately one third of the domestic newspaper market. And last week, Jeremy Hunt ruled that Murdoch, who owns a 39 per cent stake in BSkyB, can now buy it outright (save for Sky’s news channel). This consolidates the Australian-born mogul as by far the most significant media magnate in this country, wielding vast political and commercial power.


(click here to continue reading What the papers won’t say.)

Parliament Buildings London

Parliament Buildings London

and one last bit:

Perhaps Baldwin, like his former News International colleagues, doesn’t find phone hacking too shocking. Indeed, one of his first actions as Miliband’s spin-doctor was to instruct Labour MPs to go easy on the scandal. In a leaked memo, he ordered them not to link it to the impending takeover decision on BSkyB. But this was to let News International crucially off the hook. For the key question — and it burns deeper than ever in the light of the Milly Dowler revelations — is exactly whether the owner of News International is any longer a ‘fit and proper’ person to occupy such a dominant position in the British media.

This is a question that has almost never been asked. This is partly because of heavy political protection of the kind that was on such vivid display at the Orangery last month. But Murdoch could not have got away with it for so long but for the silence in the British press. The Sunday Mirror is the News of the World’s most direct competitor: one would have expected it to revel in its rival’s problems. Instead it has largely ignored the story — except for an attack on the News of the World on Wednesday — as has Express Newspapers.

The Daily Mail, likewise, has written almost nothing. Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief at Associated Newspapers, is rightly regarded as the greatest newspaper editor of his time. But in this case Fleet Street’s moralist has lost his compass: his failure to engage seriously with the phone-hacking story is a most unfortunate blot on a brilliant career. The Daily Telegraph, for which I write, has done better, but the minimum. Only the Guardian, and belatedly the Independent, have covered the story with flair and integrity.

This should have been one of the great stories of all time. It has almost everything — royalty, police corruption, Downing Street complicity, celebrities by the cartload, Fleet Street at its most evil and disgusting. One day, I guess, it will be turned into a brilliant film, and there will be a compulsive book as well.

The truth is that very few newspapers can declare themselves entirely innocent of buying illegal information from private detectives. A 2006 report by the Information Commissioner gave a snapshot into the affairs of one such ‘detective’, caught in so-called ‘Operation Motorman’. The commissioner’s report found that 305 journalists had been identified ‘as customers driving the illegal trade in confidential personal information’. It named each newspaper group, the number of offences and the number of guilty journalists (see above). But, as the commission observed, coverage of this scandal ‘even in the broadsheets, at the time of publication, was limited’. The same reticence has been seen, until now, over the voicemail-hacking scandal.

By minimising these stories, media groups are coming dangerously close to making a very significant statement: they are essentially part of the same bent system as News International and complicit in its criminality. At heart this is a story about the failure of the British system, which relies on a series of checks and balances to prevent high-level corruption. Each one of them has failed: parliament because MPs feel intimidated by the power of newspapers to expose and destroy them; and opposition, because Ed Miliband lacked the moral imagination to escape the News International mindset — until he was forced to confront it all by the sheer horror of the Milly Dowler episode.

Legal Tender

Legal Tender

and from D.D. Guttenplan of The Nation, a little history:

Rupert Murdoch may have finally gone too far. For decades the billionaire media baron has relentlessly amassed power on three continents. But it is worth recalling that his first move out of his native Australia—and out from under the shadow of his father, newspaper magnate Sir Keith Murdoch—came in 1969, when he snatched a very downmarket British Sunday title, the News of the World, away from Robert Maxwell. (Maxwell’s fraudulent dealings were still unsuspected, but his Czech Jewish origins were held against him by the paper’s editor, who remarked that the News of the World “was—and should remain—as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.”) In considerable decline from its heyday in the 1950s, when it sold over 8 million copies, the paper Murdoch acquired relied on a mix of kiss and tell stories—the News of the World bought Christine Keeler’s account of her involvement in the Profumo Scandal—and “investigations” of London vice dens, with the exposé typically ending with the line “I made my excuses and left.”

But it was still the biggest-selling English language paper in the world, and though Murdoch steered it even deeper into sleaze—earning him the nickname “the Dirty Digger”—the News of the World and its weekday stablemate, the Sun, which he acquired a year later, supplied the steady profits that enabled Murdoch to build his British empire. (In 2010, a terrible year in the newspaper business, the two titles reported a profit of £86 million.) So there was something not just shocking but brutal about James Murdoch’s announcement that “this Sunday will be the last issue” of the 168-year-old paper.

The immediate cause of the paper’s demise was public revulsion in Britain to the news that News of the World reporters had hacked into the mobile phone messages of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who was abducted on her way home from school in March 2002, but whose body wasn’t discovered for another six months. Guardian reporter Nick Davies’s disclosure that the News of the World had not only listened to messages left by Milly’s frantic friends and family but had deleted messages from her voice mailbox to keep the supply coming—creating false hope for the girl’s family and possibly destroying evidence—sparked a boycott of the paper’s advertisers and widespread denunciation. Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the hacking as “dreadful,” Labour Party leader Ed Miliband called for Rebekah Brooks, a Murdoch executive who was editor of the News of the World when the murdered teenager’s phone was hacked, to resign. The Royal British Legion, the country’s largest veterans’ organization, announced it was cutting its ties with the paper after reports emerged suggesting that the phones of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan had also been hacked. Even Rupert Murdoch described the mounting scandal as “deplorable and unacceptable.”


(click here to continue reading Sky Falling, Murdoch Sacks Hacks. Game Over? | The Nation.)

and for some inexplicable reason, this tidbit made me happy:

There is no doubt that Murdoch has been seriously damaged by all of these disclosures. It has often been said of Murdoch that the only thing he cares about is his share price. Events over the past week wiped some $2.5 billion off the value of News Corporation, his US-based holding company.

Business politics

Milly Dowler Hacking Puts Pressure on News Corp

Jogging After the End of Times

About fracking time. Rupert Murdoch’s criminal enterprise has avoided prosecution for way too long, in this matter, and others due to political influence. Isn’t justice supposed to be impartial?  ((ha ha))

LONDON — Political pressure is bearing down on Rebekah Brooks, a top executive of the News Corporation in Britain, following allegations that one of the company’s newspapers hacked the cellphone of a 13-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered in 2002, when Ms. Brooks was its editor.

Prominent politicians chastised the company and Ms. Brooks, and Ford Motor Company suspended advertising in News of the World, the tabloid that has faced a long-running scandal over the widespread interception of voice mail messages of celebrities and other public figures.

Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said Tuesday that Ms. Brooks should “consider her conscience and consider her position” after the disclosures.

“It wasn’t a rogue reporter,” Mr. Miliband said. “It wasn’t just one individual. This was a systematic series of things that happened and what I want from executives at News International is people to start taking responsibility for this.” News International is the News Corporation’s British newspaper division, and Ms. Brooks is now its chief executive.

Prime Minister David Cameron took time out from a visit to British troops in Afghanistan to lament what he called a “truly dreadful situation.” The police, he added, “should investigate this without any fear, without any favor, without any worry about where the evidence should lead them.”

Adding to the pressure, Ford Motor Company said it was suspending advertising until the newspaper concluded its investigation into the episode. “We are awaiting an outcome from the News of the World investigation and expect a speedy and decisive response,” Ford said in a statement released to news agencies. Under an onslaught of Twitter messages demanding a boycott of the paper, several other companies said they were reviewing their advertising policies.

(click here to continue reading Milly Dowler Hacking Puts Pressure on Rebekah Brooks of News Corp. –

Rupert Murdoch is scum, and his disease has spread through his entire “news” empire: Fox News, News of the World, New York Post, etc. etc., Ad nauseam…

Eye see u Willis
Eye see u Willis

I guess the real test will be if News Corporation’s criminal activity leads to legal action in the near future.

The allegation that investigators working for The News of the World may have had ordinary people like the Dowlers, not just celebrities, in their sights has raised the level of alarm in Britain over tabloid newspaper excesses.

“The Milly Dowler story has taken this from an issue for people who are concerned about media ethics to one that is of broader concern to the general public,” said Tim Luckhurst, a journalism professor at the University of Kent. “News Corporation thought they could put a lid on this, and this has blown the lid right off.”

According to Mark Lewis, a lawyer for the Dowler family, The News of the World not only intercepted messages left on Milly Dowler’s phone by her increasingly frantic family, but also deleted some of those messages when her voice mailbox became full — thus making room for new ones and listening to those in turn. This confused investigators and gave false hope to Milly’s relatives, who believed it showed she was still alive and deleting the messages herself, Mr. Lewis said.

In a statement, Mr. Lewis called the newspaper’s actions “heinous” and “despicable”, and said the Dowler family had suffered “distress heaped upon tragedy” upon learning that the News of the World “had no humanity at such a terrible time.”


From The Guardian U.K.

The private investigator at the centre of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal has issued a public apology to all those who have been hurt or upset by his activity.

In a statement released exclusively to the Guardian, Glenn Mulcaire made no direct reference to the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone, but he said he had never intended to interfere with any police inquiry.

“I want to apologise to anybody who was hurt or upset by what I have done,” he said, adding that he had worked at the NoW under “constant demand for results”.

He released the statement at the Guardian’s request after experiencing what he described as “vilification” following the revelation of the hacking of the missing schoolgirl’s phone.

“Much has been published in the media about me. Up to now, I have not responded publicly in any way to all the stories but in the light of the publicity over the last 24 hours, I feel I must break my silence.

“I want to apologise to anybody who was hurt or upset by what I have done. I’ve been to court. I’ve pleaded guilty. And I’ve gone to prison and been punished. I still face the possibility of further criminal prosecution.

“Working for the News of the World was never easy. There was relentless pressure. There was a constant demand for results. I knew what we did pushed the limits ethically. But, at the time, I didn’t understand that I had broken the law at all.

“A lot of information I obtained was simply tittle-tattle, of no great importance to anyone, but sometimes what I did was for what I thought was the greater good, to carry out investigative journalism.

“I never had any intention of interfering with any police inquiry into any crime.

“I know I have brought the vilification I am experiencing upon myself, but I do ask the media to leave my family and my children, who are all blameless, alone.”

(click here to continue reading Phone hacking: Glenn Mulcaire blames ‘relentless pressure’ by NoW for actions | Media | The Guardian.)

Business News-esque

The orthodoxy of the article

Evening Newspapers at Monument Station

While I’ve never been a journalist1, I know plenty practitioners of the form; am descended from journalists, and related to others. Thus, Jeff Jarvis’ argument resonates with me.

He begins:

When I say the article is a luxury, I argue that using ever-more-precious resources to create an article should be taken seriously and before writing and editing a story we must assure that it will add value. Do most articles do that today? No. Go through your paper in the morning and tell me how much real value is added and how much ink is spilled to tell you what you already know (whether that is facts you learned through Twitter, the web, TV, radio, et al or background that is reheated more often than a stale slice in a bad New York pizzeria).

How many articles are rewritten from others’ work just so a paper and a reporter can have a byline? How many predict the obvious (every story about an upcoming storm, holiday, press conference, or horse race election)? How often do you see a local TV story with any real reporting and value instead of just someone standing where the news happened 12 hours ago telling you what you and he both read online already? Too many articles passing themselves off as professional journalism are crap and I say we can’t afford to do that anymore. I say we should treat articles with veneration as a luxury.


Second, I am also promoting rather than devaluing background when I say it is best linked to. The background paragraphs in an ongoing story generally do one of two things: they bore and waste the time of people who have followed the story or they underinform the people who have not been following the story. Background graphs were a necessity of print but online we can improve background immensely, investing the effort in truly valuable and long-lasting content assets that give richer and more helpful background on a story. I’ve worked with smart folks at news companies imagining how we could provide multiple paths through background: here’s the path to take if you’re coming to the story as a virgin; here’s a track to take if you’ve missed a week; here’s a track from one perspective; here’s one from another. If someone else did a great job explaining the story or elements of it, we should link to them. Filoux calls that oursourcing. I call that linking. We do that nowadays. This is why I’m eagerly watching Jay Rosen’s project in creating explainers, which is an even richer form of background.

Third, in this entire discussion of the article, I am valuing reporting higher than repetitive retyping. As our resources become ever-scarcer, I say that we must devote more of them to reporting than to articles that add little: asking the questions that haven’t been asked and answered, finding people who can add information and perspective, fact-checking.


(click here to continue reading The orthodoxy of the article, part II « BuzzMachine.)

Journalism, especially print journalism, has to change, drastically, and soon. Or else the profession will be relegated to the warehouse that holds telegraph operators, carriage horse cabbies, and sword polishers. Actual reporting will not be replaced by current2 trends and practices: Twitter, cellphone video, and so on, but it could and should be enhanced by it.

People's Friend, People's Journal, Sunday Post, Dundee Courier

oh, and Mr. Jarvis’ original article, for the record.

  1. being a blogger since 1999 doesn’t count – much different aims, no editor – obviously – and so on []
  2. and future []

Cell Phone Cancer Probably Just Another Hype

Cell phone-iphile

Cell phones are in the news, as the latest scientific-related worry causer. Our media thrives on such scary stories, whether or not they are factually true or not. I wouldn’t throw out your cellphone just yet…

Basically, the WHO put cell phones into the Group 2B category, meaning they are “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. Aiiiieee! Sounds scary… except that word “possibly”, it turns out, needs to be understood a little more quantitatively.

I poked around some news sites (like CNN and MSNBC), and while they aren’t over-hyping it, in my opinion they aren’t being entirely fair, either. The claims I’ve seen from people linking cell phones to brain cancer make it seem as if the connection is obvious, but the results from the WHO make it clear that’s not the case. There might be a connection, but if there is it’s not terribly clear. I’ll note the studies only appear to cover a time base of ten years; it’s not possible to know what happens after, say 15 or 20 years. Even then, other environmental factors dominate such studies, making teasing out a weak signal very difficult.

You may also wish to note what other things are categorized as Group 2B possible carcinogens, including gasoline, pickled vegetables, and (GASP!) coffee. My opinion here is that while a link between cell phones and brain cancer cannot be ruled out, without a strong correlation and a numerical statement about the odds, it seems very unlikely to me that such a connection is something to worry about. I’m far more worried about the dingus in traffic in front of me gabbing to his friend on his phone and causing an accident than I am about me getting brain cancer from my own.

(click here to continue reading Why I’m (still) not worried about my cell phone hurting my brain | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine.)

Do Not Overreach


links for 2011-04-28

  • Absurd NYT blog post on WikiLeaks more interested in “leaing and spinning” which somehow “are not about uncovering the truth.”   Writer ignores evidence to contrary in his own story.
  • Baldwin began the conversation by asking Liman, the director of “Fair Game” and “The Bourne Identity” and the producer of “The O.C.” and “Covert Affairs,” how he got started in film. An innocent story about being handed a camera and projector as a child somehow transitioned into Liman admitting he’s known for “stealing takes.” Asked to elaborate, the director said when he was filming “The Bourne Identity” with Matt Damon in Paris, he would shoot scenes without the required permits, necessitating scampering in the dark to avoid getting caught. The dashing-around accounted for the unsteady cinematography, he joked. “So your art is more about theft is what you’re saying,” Baldwin deadpanned.


  • Because of these changes, the USPS does not accept bulk mail that has address labels that contain POSTNET bar codes that are generated by Word. These bulk mailings no longer qualify for a bulk mailing discount.

    Even though I don’t bulk mail, found the bar code useful


  • Exxon Mobil Corp. will lead a strong first-quarter earnings season for energy companies this week, with the largest U.S.-based oil and gas producer’s balance sheet fueled by $100-a-barrel oil.
  • Whoa, what’s happening?Sorry if we’ve caught you by surprise. Delicious has been acquired by the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen and will become part of their new Internet company, AVOS. Here are a few links to catch you up to date on the latest news regarding Delicious
Business politics

The Fox Cycle of Lies

Fat Blak n Happy

Fox News is happy setting the agenda, especially if the agenda smears the left, and especially if the smear is not factually based. If I was in charge of the airwave spectrum, I’d revoke their broadcasting license, along with NBC’s. If corporations really want to be treated like people, there should be penalties. Let them buy back their license, if they really want them, help the national debt.

Yesterday, the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility released the findings of its investigation into allegations that the Obama DOJ allowed racial and political considerations to affect its handling of the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party. According to OPR, there was “no evidence” that race or politics impacted the case and the DOJ “did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment, but rather acted appropriately.”

This represents the final step of the Fox Cycle: the mechanism by which bogus right-wing attacks become mainstream news. The central allegation of the New Black Panther controversy — that the Obama DOJ dismissed charges against the fringe extremist group in accordance with a policy of racial preference that privileged African Americans — has been debunked by the OPR investigation. That debunking, however, comes months after the frenzy of media coverage that wrongly tarnished the reputations of credibility of the attorney general and his subordinates.

The taxpayer dollars are irretrievably wasted, and the damage is already done. And that was the point all along, from the moment this ridiculous claptrap was dreamed up.

(click here to continue reading The Fox Cycle: The New Black Panther Endgame | Media Matters for America.)



NBC is never critical of General Electric

Just in case you thought Fox was the only corporate media organization with a credibility problem, NBC has, once again, omitted criticizing its parent, GE. NBC pretends GE only does good things on earth, distributes puppies and the like, and isn’t one of the worst corporations on the planet. Of course, facts are troubling things…

Electricity comes from other planets

It’s the kind of accountability journalism that makes readers raise an eyebrow, if it doesn’t raise their blood pressure first. General Electric Co., reported the New York Times last week, earned $14.2 billion in worldwide profits last year, including $5.1 billion in the United States — and paid exactly zero dollars in federal taxes.

The front-page story drew widespread commentary in newspapers and on many Web sites. ABC News and Fox News, among others, were all over it.

But the story was conspicuously absent from the reportage of one news organization: NBC.

During its Friday broadcast, “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” had no time to mention that America’s largest corporation had essentially avoided paying federal taxes in 2010. Or its Saturday, Sunday or Monday broadcasts, either.

Did NBC’s silence have anything to do with the fact that one of its parent companies is General Electric?

NBC News representatives say that it didn’t. “This was a straightforward editorial decision, the kind we make daily around here,” said Lauren Kapp, spokeswoman for NBC News. Kapp declined to discuss how NBC decides what’s news or, in this case, what isn’t.

But to others, NBC’s silence looks like something between a lapse and a coverup. The satirical “Daily Show” on Monday noted that “Nightly News” had time on Friday to squeeze in a story about the Oxford English Dictionary adding such terms as “OMG” and “muffin top,” but didn’t bother with the GE story.

Ignoring stories about its parent company’s activities is “part of a troubling pattern” for NBC News, said Peter Hart, a director at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a liberal media watchdog group that often documents instances of corporate interference in news. He cited a series of GE-related stories that NBC’s news division has underplayed over the years, from safety issues in GE-designed nuclear power plants to the dumping of hazardous chemicals into New York’s Hudson River by GE-owned plants.

What’s more, Hart notes, NBC News has covered corporate tax-avoidance stories before — that is, when they didn’t involve GE. All three networks’ news divisions, according to Hart, have become reliable sources of publicity for their parents’ other corporate interests, doing news stories about upcoming sporting events or new TV shows carried on their own networks.

(click here to continue reading On NBC, the missing story about parent company General Electric – The Washington Post.)

 Solve Danger


Racketeer Rabbit Republicans

Back Door?

Why does the GOP have so much vitriol on hand for its policy, ready to direct at the topic du jour? Especially when these policies benefit corporate profit over average citizens, where does the support come from? Well, it might be fake; manufactured by cynical political consultants working for Fox News, and its minions.

When the country has rejected, one-by-one, the antiquated principles of the Republican party; when two cops at the ballgame in Clearwater today come up to me and say “we’re Conservatives but this crap with our unions here and in Wisconsin has gotta stop”; when enough Republicans have already rejected Scott Walker that if another election were held today he’d be voted out of office two months after he assumed it – how does the Right Wing/Media/Industrial Complex continue to throw around so much weight?

They do what Bugs did to Rocky. Every five or six rabid Conservatives we hear on talk radio, or see at protests, or read online, may not actually exist. They are just Bugs Bunnies, wearing different hats.

The latest evidence to support a brilliant but heinous effort to forcibly swing public opinion via the use of phony advocates? A remarkable piece by a website on Jewish faith called The Tablet nonchalantly reveals that the same company that syndicates the shows of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity has also employed actors to call in to those shows and pretend to be real people with real opinions and real problems.

To be fair, there isn’t a word of documentation in the post that confirms that Premiere Radio Networks’ “Premiere On Call” actually has stooges supplying the outrage and umbrage that seemingly instantly inspires the flights of outrage and certitude which propagandists like Beck and Limbaugh take. The one documented breaking of the confidentiality agreement all the phony callers evidently signed, reveals how one of the actors permitted the host of a personal help call-in show resolve a bizarre and unlikely scenario about a groom inviting his bride to the bachelor party.


Extrapolated by desperate and uncaring men, the logical conclusion is simple: If you can’t beat ‘em, simply create imaginary support. An old cynical view of mob mentality is to populate an undecided crowd of almost any size listening to a guy trying to sell them rat poison as the elixir of life, with as few as a half a dozen supporters. Have each of the six scream his or her support at different intervals and as loudly as possible (“Howard Johnson is right!”) and soon you’ll be getting harrumphs of support from people who don’t even know they are agreeing with plants and shills – and that they’re about to willingly hand over their money to Bugs, wearing six different hats.



(click here to continue reading Racketeer Rabbit Republicans | FOK News Channel.)

Parenthetical note: I never once watched Keith Olbermann’s MSNBC show (I don’t have time for any of the televised chattering face shows, besides Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert’s hour of news-esque satire),  except for a few YouTube bits linked from elsewhere, but his new blog, FOK News Channel, is pretty good. Check it out if you can.

News-esque politics

Roger Ailes possibly to be Indicted

Daily News

Wouldn’t this be sweet? Roger Ailes to be indicted for lying to federal investigators?

Here’s what I learned recently: Someone I spoke with claimed that Ailes was scheduled to speak at their event in March, but canceled. It appears that Roger’s people, ostensibly using a clause in his contract, said he “cannot appear for legal reasons.”

I asked “What, precisely, does that mean?”

The response: “Roger Ailes will be indicted — probably this week, maybe even Monday.”

(click here to continue reading Roger Ailes to be Indicted | The Big Picture.)

Newstand on State Street circa 1996

I had read the NYT article yesterday about Judith Regan’s troubles with News Corp., but I didn’t think much of it1 I don’t trust federal prosecutors to tackle cases with bold-face names, even if they are bald-faced liars like Roger Ailes.

It was an incendiary allegation — and a mystery of great intrigue in the media world: After the publishing powerhouse Judith Regan was fired by HarperCollins in 2006, she claimed that a senior executive at its parent company, News Corporation, had encouraged her to lie two years earlier to federal investigators who were vetting Bernard B. Kerik for the job of homeland security secretary. Enlarge This Image

Ms. Regan had once been involved in an affair with Mr. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner whose mentor and supporter, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, was in the nascent stages of a presidential campaign. The News Corporation executive, whom she did not name, wanted to protect Mr. Giuliani and conceal the affair, she said.

Now, court documents filed in a lawsuit make clear whom Ms. Regan was accusing of urging her to lie: Roger E. Ailes, the powerful chairman of Fox News and a longtime friend of Mr. Giuliani. What is more, the documents say that Ms. Regan taped the telephone call from Mr. Ailes in which Mr. Ailes discussed her relationship with Mr. Kerik.

It is unclear whether the existence of the tape played a role in News Corporation’s decision to move quickly to settle a wrongful termination suit filed by Ms. Regan, paying her $10.75 million in a confidential settlement reached two months after she filed it in 2007.

Depending on the specifics, the taped conversation could possibly rise to the level of conspiring to lie to federal officials, a federal crime, but prosecutors rarely pursue such cases, said Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia University law professor and a former federal prosecutor.

(click here to continue reading Fox News Chief, Roger Ailes, Urged Employee to Lie, Records Show –

Delicious, no? Of course, victory celebrations should not be scheduled until Ailes actually appears in court, which could be never.

Pippen Peruses the Newspaper

David Corn adds:

On Thursday, The New York Times broke one of those deliciously dishy New York political-media exposés involving bold-face names. According to legal papers filed in a civil suit, in 2004 Roger Ailes, the pugilistic head of Fox News, encouraged Judith Regan, a flashy publisher, to lie to federal investigators about an affair she had had with Bernard Kerik, the former NYC police chief nominated by George W. Bush to be the secretary of homeland security. Ailes’ motive: to protect Rudolph Giuliani, a close pal of Ailes’ and a mentor and supporter of Kerik. Giuliani was at that time looking toward a presidential run in 2008, and any scandal involving Kerik, his close associate, would be bad news for him.

In 2006, after she was fired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns Fox News, Regan (who had proposed publishing O.J. Simpson’s hypothetical confession of the murder of his ex-wife) publicly claimed that a senior exec at News Corp. had asked her to lie about her affair with Kerik, who was married. (Reportedly, Kerik and Regan used an apartment near Ground Zero — which had been donated for recovery and rescue workers — as their love nest.) But Regan did not ID the News Corp. honcho who had encouraged her to hush up. In a lawsuit filed against News Corp. in 2007, Regan said this executive had told her that if she disclosed information about her tryst with Kerik, it “would harm Giuliani’s presidential campaign.”

There’s more to this twisted tale — including accusations of anti-Semitism, a $10.75 million settlement for Regan, a novel that portrayed baseball great Mickey Mantle as a lascivious drunk, and Kerik’s indictment on tax fraud and other charges. (Kerik was sent to the slammer last year.) But let’s keep the focus on Ailes. The Times scoop, based on legal filings in a case in which Regan’s former lawyers are suing her for not paying them (oy!), reveals that Regan taped the phone call during which Ailes pushed her to lie to the feds about a sexual matter.

This tape is Ailes’ blue dress.

Fox News, founded in 1996, went to town during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment crusade. That saga made Ailes’ network. I doubt anyone kept track, but there must have been at least 17 million occasions when a Fox host or guest said that lying about sex in a legal proceeding (to prevent political embarrassment) was a high crime deserving impeachment — or worse.

Yet that’s what Ailes encouraged Regan to do. And this might have been illegal: conspiring to lie to federal gumshoes is a crime. But prosecutors don’t usually bother with such cases. (Remember all those high-minded Fox Newsers who fiercely dismissed the argument that Clinton ought not be prosecuted or impeached for this sort of lie because prosecutors rarely chased after this kind of perjury case?)

(click here to continue reading Roger Ailes’ Sex-and-Lies Tale: There Is Something Different About Fox.)

Evening Newspapers at Monument Station

And I wonder what’s happening with the other legal case against Rupert Murdoch’s empire, namely that various News Corp employees hacked into cellphones and voicemail boxes of hundreds of folks. Mostly in the U.K., as far as we know, but I assume the New York Post was educated and encouraged to do the same.

As Scotland Yard tracked Goodman and Mulcaire, the two men hacked into Prince Harry’s mobile-phone messages. On April 9, 2006, Goodman produced a follow-up article in News of the World about the apparent distress of Prince Harry’s girlfriend over the matter. Headlined “Chelsy Tears Strip Off Harry!” the piece quoted, verbatim, a voice mail Prince Harry had received from his brother teasing him about his predicament.

The palace was in an uproar, especially when it suspected that the two men were also listening to the voice mail of Prince William, the second in line to the throne. The eavesdropping could not have gone higher inside the royal family, since Prince Charles and the queen were hardly regular mobile-phone users. But it seemingly went everywhere else in British society. Scotland Yard collected evidence indicating that reporters at News of the World might have hacked the phone messages of hundreds of celebrities, government officials, soccer stars — anyone whose personal secrets could be tabloid fodder. Only now, more than four years later, are most of them beginning to find out.

AS OF THIS SUMMER2, five people have filed lawsuits accusing News Group Newspapers, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s publishing empire that includes News of the World, of breaking into their voice mail. Additional cases are being prepared, including one seeking a judicial review of Scotland Yard’s handling of the investigation. The litigation is beginning to expose just how far the hacking went, something that Scotland Yard did not do. In fact, an examination based on police records, court documents and interviews with investigators and reporters shows that Britain’s revered police agency failed to pursue leads suggesting that one of the country’s most powerful newspapers was routinely listening in on its citizens.

(click here to continue reading The British Tabloid Phone-Hacking Scandal –

That case continues, but slowly.

  1. actually tweeted a link to the story Friday night []
  2. 2010 []
Apple Links

links for 2010-12-29

  • As business models go, there are currently two dominant ones: either people like your product enough to purchase it or they don’t care enough to buy it but will overlook its deficiencies if it’s “free” in exchange for their personal browsing and purchasing info sold to advertisers. The former model is Apple’s, the latter is Google’s. Apple sells emotional experiences. The price is what users pay to be delighted by Apple’s stream of innovations and to be free of the lowest common denominator burdens and the pervasive harvesting of their personal info. Google sells eyeballs. To be more precise, the clickstream attached to those eyeballs. Thus scale, indeed dominance, is absolutely crucial to Google’s model.
    (tags: google iPhone Apple)
  • Even for someone who follows sustainable agriculture and animal welfare issues, this is pretty astounding: New analysis by the Center for a Livable Future shows that 80% of all antibiotics sold in the United States go to farm animals (Wired). The last time that stat was calculated, a decade ago by the Union of Concerned Scientists, it stood at 70%.
  • In recent weeks, NPR hosts, reporters and guests have incorrectly said or implied that WikiLeaks recently has disclosed or released roughly 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables. Although the website has vowed to publish “251,287 leaked United States embassy cables,” as of Dec. 28, 2010, only 1,942 of the cables had been released.
    anti propaganda hemp anslinger marijuana-girl-reefer-madness-poster.jpg

GOP blockade of 9-11 health bill

I don’t understand why this particular Senate GOP obstructionism over the Zadroga bill isn’t a bigger story. Isn’t 9/11 part of the conservative mantra? Why the media silence? Crumbles in the stone wall of silence, but this outrageous stance should be on front pages of newspapers everywhere, and lead story on all the television news too. The House passed the bill a while ago, but the GOP is still fighting against it.

With Senate Democrats upping the pressure for passage of the bill giving health benefits to sickened 9/11 responders, it’s going to get increasingly hard for GOP Senators to maintain their opposition. That’s because even right-leaning commentators and political operatives are growing mighty uncomfortable with the Senate GOP’s stance.

Case in point: This morning Joe Scarborough ripped into GOP opponents of passing the bill, which is called the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. He said Republicans were taking a big risk, and the crucial point Scarborough made is that this should be a national issue, not a New York one:

Why wouldn’t we take care of their health care? It’s just like taking care of veterans’ health care,” Scarborough wondered aloud. “It can’t be a good move for Republicans to oppose a bill for the firefighters and the cops on 9/11.” “How did this become a New York issue?” Scarborough continued. “That is like Pearl Harbor becoming a Hawaii issue in 1951. It’s ridiculous.” Senator Jon Kyl and other GOP Senators don’t appear moved by such entreaties. Over the weekend he took a break from obstructing the New START treaty in order to express concerns about the costs of the 9/11 bill, calling for more time.

(click to continue reading The Plum Line – Conservatives growing uncomfortable with GOP blockade of 9/11 health bill.)

Wonder if Jon Stewart’s one man campaign is having any effect? Video segment here (if you can get it to load, I had trouble)

Thursday’s “Daily Show” was the last episode of the year for the news comedy show, yet there were very little laughs. Instead it focused on a devastating interview with four of the 9/11 first responders. Kenny Speck, Chris Bauman, Ken George and John Devlin epitomize New York tough-guy firefighters, emergency workers and police officers, and all suffer from severe diseases and injuries as a result of the work they did in the first days after the terrorist attack on lower Manhattan.

It was the latest in a series of attacks Stewart has launched on the Republicans for blocking a bill to fund health care for 9/11 first responders. He also has been scathing of the scant network coverage of the bill.

Republicans have said they will block the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act until the Bush tax breaks were extended. Now that the tax cut bill has been approved and will likely be signed into law, it remains to be seen if the Republicans will stop stalling on a vote for the Zadroga bill.

(click to continue reading BlogPost – Jon Stewart’s campaign for the Zadroga bill (Video).)

humor Links News-esque

links for 2010-12-20

  • How many of these cables, rather than being the unvarnished facts which reveal the public lies are actually another layer of lies from bureaucrats trying to appease their bosses? It’s funny how transparency can reveal all sorts of unexpected things isn’t it? If only there were professional people who gather facts and research issues and interview subjects who could be called upon to investigate such things.
    (tags: media wikileaks)

Balancing Both Sides Against the Middle

Self Sacrifice Zealot

The political journalism canard that if both left and right are complaining about your coverage, you are doing something right is punctured, again, by Eric Alterman:1

This journalistic calculus is partly why so much of our political discourse is artificially colored by he said, she said reporting that is of little use to our democracy. Why it rarely weighs facts, draws conclusions and exposes the dissemblers, prevaricators and liars. Why it more often than not resembles a referee, yes, but one at a pro wrestling match, purporting to be a fair watchdog but completely ineffectual and easily rolled (if not totally in on the joke) when faced with a party who simply refuses to play by the rules. Why a supposedly preeminent member of the Washington press corps like the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank could write the following five years ago:

[A 2004 survey] found that 75 percent of Bush voters believed that Iraq either gave al Qaeda ‘substantial support’ or was directly involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks…

This is not to pick on Bush followers. Many on the left harbor their own fantasies that they consider fact—about how Bush knew of 9/11 in advance, or how he was coached during one of the presidential debates via a transmitter between his shoulder blades.

I’ll set aside any confusion possibly caused by this inconvenient memo to state unequivocally that I’m no crazy 9/11 truther. Nevertheless, it’s still amazing that, in Dana Milbank’s mind as well as his editors, an erroneous belief held by 46.5 million Bush voters, one of whom at the time of the survey was also our Vice President, constitutes as big a threat to democratic discourse as a minority of fringe conspiracy theorists on the left, none of whom have ever gained so much as a toehold within legitimately respected circles of intellectual or political discourse.

In fact, it took an astute reader to later corner Milbank on his baldly false equivalence in a subsequent Post webchat, where Milbank’s response cast aside his righteous anger at so much political spin and instead became an object lesson about Nietzsche’s abyss: “Let’s for now leave aside the question of the % on each side that believe a falsehood. I think the examples cited are actually quite similar.” Wow, wholly abandoning any attempt to defend the logic behind one’s assertion while at the same time confidently re-asserting its veracity.  Ari Fleischer, eat your heart out.

(click to continue reading Our Editor-in-Chief President | Eric Alterman – The Nation.)

President Obama has seemingly been subsumed by this same adage, asserting that since both liberals and Tea Baggers don’t like the Give Millionaires Tax Breaks They Don’t Need policy, the tax policy must be good. Uhh, no. Guess again!

Jerk City

Ari Berman writes:

In his press conference yesterday2 , President Obama testily defended his tax cut deal with Republicans and labeled Democratic opponents of the plan “sanctimonious” and “purist.”

So do Obama supporters agree with the president’s assessment that this was the best compromise he could get and he did all he could to fight for middle-class tax cuts and not those for the wealthy?

The answer seems to be a pretty resounding no. A poll commissioned by yesterday found that 74 percent of Obama volunteers or financial backers in ’08 oppose the deal. More than half said they’d be less likely to support Democrats in 2012 who back the compromise and would be less likely to donate to Obama’s re-election campaign. Pretty sobering statistics for the president and his team.

(click to continue reading Obama Supporters ‘Dismayed, Betrayed, Insulted’ by Tax Deal | The Nation.)

  1. or someone sitting in for him. Who is Reed? []
  2. December 7,2010 []

Fox News gets subpoena power via its client

CLTV Truck

Fox News gets subpoena power via its client, the Republican Party. Oh, how lovely.

Fox News figures are telling the incoming Republican House majority how to use its investigative authority, compiling a growing list of targets in the Obama administration.


Fox Nation highlights “GOP’s First 4 Potential Investigations of Obama.” Fox Nation trumpeted a November 3 article that discusses four possible House investigations into “criticisms of administration officials and their decisions,” including the phony New Black Panthers scandal, conversations between the White House and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) leading up to his Democratic Senate primary, funding of ACORN and its successor groups, and the administration’s response to the BP oil spill.  Many of these investigations are based on phony scandals that have been aggressively promoted by Fox News.

(click to continue reading Fox News gets subpoena power | Media Matters for America.)

Fist Bumps

In other words, the next two years are going to be devoted to fake scandals, played out in the conservative media and echo chamber, and not to doing the people’s business. Can’t wait.