The phone-hacking crisis enveloping the News of the World intensified on Tuesday night after it emerged that Scotland Yard has started to contact the relatives of victims of the 7 July 2005 attacks to warn them they were targeted by the paper.
The revelation that bereaved family members may have had their mobile phone messages intercepted by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator employed by the paper, in the days following the 2005 London bombings will heap further pressure on the title’s owner, News International, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
Graham Foulkes, whose son David was killed in the attack at Edgware Road tube station, confirmed that he had been contacted by officers from Operation Weeting, the Met’s investigation into phone hacking. He said they had told him his mobile phone number, ex-directory landline number and address had been found in records made by Mulcaire that were recovered from the investigator’s office in south London.
Foulkes’s solicitor, Clifford Tibber, who represents several families who had relatives killed in the terrorist attack, said the news had “come as a terrible shock” to them as they prepared to mark the sixth anniversary of the bombings this week.
The news capped a dramatic day of unfolding developments in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.
Police officers are turning their attention to examine every high-profile case involving the murder, abduction or attack on any child since 2001 – in response to the revelation that journalists from the tabloid newspaper hacked into the voicemail messages of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
Officers have already told the parents of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the girls killed in Soham in 2002 by Ian Huntley, that their mobiles had been hacked. Documents seized by the Metropolitan police in a 2006 raid on Mulcaire’s home show he targeted Leslie Chapman, the father of Jessica Chapman.
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.
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
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.”
One of Rupert Murdoch’s worst ideas, no? Purchasing Myspace at its peak?
News Corp has sold Myspace for $35 million, a fraction of what it paid for the once hot social media site even as a new generation of web-based start-ups is enjoying sky-high valuations.
Specific Media, an online advertising company, will acquire Myspace in a deal that caps a tumultuous period of ownership under Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which swooped in to buy Myspace for $580 million in 2005.
Founded in August 2003 by Chris De Wolfe and Tom Anderson, Myspace was conceived as a way for friends and fans to connect with one another as well as with their favorite bands and artists.
Myspace, a kind of musical version of pioneer social network site Friendster, fast became wildly popular with teenagers and young adults, who spent hours designing their own pages with their favorite digital wallpaper, posting photos and adding friends.
At its peak in 2008, Myspace attracted nearly 80 million people in the United States, almost double that of Facebook. The growth was too fast and Myspace had trouble scaling the number of users who were flocking to the site. Meanwhile Facebook had opened up its platform to third-party developers, such as Zynga and its popular FarmVille game. That attracted more people and kept them on the site.
By 2011, the number of U.S. visitors to Myspace fell to about 40 million while those visiting Facebook totaled about 150 million, according to online measurement firm comScore.
For the quarter ended March 2011, News Corp reported a segment operating loss of $165 million, mainly due to declines at Myspace.
LONDON — The story so far: Clive Goodman, a journalist for Rupert Murcoch’s English tabloid, the News of the World, was sent to prison in 2006, along with a private detective, Glenn Mulcaire, for hacking into the voice mail messages of Prince William and Prince Henry. News International, the U.K. newspaper-owning subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corporation, has consistently claimed that the phone-hacking was confined to a single rogue reporter, but evidence uncovered by the Guardian and New York Times has suggested otherwise.
Last Friday, James Murdoch told PBS’ Charlie Rose that News International had defused a reputation crisis over allegations of widespread illegal phone hacking at the News of the World newspaper: “You talk about a reputation crisis—actually the business is doing really well. It shows what we were able to do is really put this problem into a box.”
But the lid has not stayed on the box and the contents have spilled over the sides. Rupert Murdoch has now tried to put that box into yet another one by issuing a blanket apology and offering a compensation fund for a select number of victims. Again, the lid does not seem likely to stay put. News International’s announcement of the apology on Friday amounts to a complete reversal of policy by Rupert Murdoch and his top brass. Until now the management of News International has always argued that a single rogue reporter had been engaged in phone hacking. But the recent arrests of a former senior News of the World executive and the paper’s chief reporter—both of whom have been bailed till September pending further developments—and a court order requiring the release of internal e-mails has given the lie to that strategy.
The former Labour minister Chris Bryant, who is suing News International, said that it is “a pretty extraordinary moment . . . when a national newspaper, which has been saying for years and years that there was just one rogue reporter, that it was all very regrettable, and that there were very few victims, owns up to a massive degree of criminality at the newspaper.”
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.”
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.
Delicious, no? Of course, victory celebrations should not be scheduled until Ailes actually appears in court, which could be never.
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?)
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.
Ending the debate1 whether News Corporation is part of the Republican Party, Rupert Murdoch put his money where his heart is.
WASHINGTON — With Republicans hoping to recapture a number of statehouses in November, the media conglomerate headed by Rupert Murdoch is inserting itself into the races in bold fashion with a $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association.
The contribution from Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and other news outlets, is one of the biggest ever given by a media organization, campaign finance experts said
Dave Levinthal, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, said seven-figure donations from anyone to “527” associations were unusual, but a $1 million donation from a news organization was particularly rare.
The donation generated significant buzz in Washington on Tuesday. Much of it focused on Fox News, whose stable of highly rated, conservative hosts have made it the frequent target of liberals, who accuse the network of blurring the line between news and opinion.
In an e-mail to reporters, the Democratic National Committee said the donation showed that Fox News’ well-known mantra, “Fair and Balanced,” had been “rendered utterly meaningless.” Hari Sevugan, a D.N.C. spokesman, added that Fox News’ political coverage “should have a disclaimer for what it truly is — partisan propaganda.”
While many news organizations reported Tuesday on the $1 million gift, a late-afternoon search of Fox News’ Web site produced no mention of it.
Media Matters, predictably, did not let the moment pass without comment.
Politico’s Ben Smith has received the following quote from a News Corp. spokesman: “News Corporation believes in the power of free markets, and the RGA’s pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical time for our economy.” They’re not trying to hide it anymore. As the coverage of its media outlets indicates, News Corp. supports the Republican Party’s platform. It’s just now started putting its money where its mouth has long been.
Sixteen months ago, we drew attention to Fox News Senior Vice President Bill Shine’s characterization of his network as the “voice of the opposition.” Ever since, we’ve been demonstrating how the network has been living up to his words.
In September, we defined Fox News as a conservative political organization, noting that the network had been openly advocating against the Democratic Congress and White House through extreme promotion of anti-government rallies, witch hunts against administration officials, and by urging their audience to call Congress and the White House to protest Democratic policies.
In November, we chronicled Fox News’ promotion of Conservative Party congressional candidate Doug Hoffman, New Jersey Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie, and Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell in the run-up to the November 3 election. We also noted how Fox News hosts and analysts spent Election Day promoting their candidacies.
Fox News takes great pains not to embarrass the Saudi family, especially since they are one of the largest shareholders in News Corp.
It was not until a few days later that I learned what may have been behind the absence of a video clip on the Web site. I had said to Doocy that Saudi Arabian money was still financing Al Qaeda. Doocy did not react to my comment. But ten days later I learned that Fox’s parent company, News Corporation, was, at the time of my interview, negotiating with a Saudi prince to vastly increase his stake in the company.
The notorious Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, nephew to the Saudi king, met with Rupert Murdoch in Hong Kong on Jan. 14. The prince issued a press release after the meeting stating that the prince’s Kingdom Holding Company had discussions that “touched upon future potential alliances with News Corp.”
By the time I appeared on Fox News, Prince Alwaleed was about to become News Corp’s fourth largest voting shareholder (behind the Murdoch family, Liberty Media, and Fidelity Management & Research Co, a mutual fund). The prince has repeatedly defended his homeland as a problem-free place. What he has failed to mention is that he has personally donated huge amounts of money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.
Alwaleed is the same Saudi prince who made headlines right after 9/11 when he personally went to Ground Zero and offered then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani a $10 million check for the relief efforts. But Alwaleed could not keep his mouth shut. He released a bizarre statement that blamed the attacks – not on the 15 airline hijackers from Saudi Arabia – but on the United States’ support of Israel.
A few interesting links collected December 8th through December 9th:
News America Paid $29.5M in Mysterious Floorgraphics Acquisition | BNET Advertising Blog | BNET – The suit has a certain chutzpah to it. A source tells BNET that FGI had sales of less than $1 million. Many outside observers believed that at the time of the deal, FGI existed mostly to resolve its litigation against NAM, not as a functioning business. It’s hard to believe NAM thought it was buying a genuine business and not settling a lawsuit, which is essentially what NAM is arguing in its suit.
The Spending Wars | The American Prospect – How did military spending become sacrosanct? – Excellent question: How did military spending become sacrosanct?”When Rep. David Obey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, recently proposed a surtax that would pay for the Afghanistan War, the collective response from most of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle was, “Are you nuts?” Nancy Pelosi quickly put the kibosh on Obey’s “Share the Sacrifice Act,” and all talk of funding the war has been banished. Meanwhile, Democrats have spent untold hours debating how to finance health-care reform, all while Republicans carp about how doing so is just too darn expensive, what with our ever-climbing deficit.”
A few interesting links collected November 9th through November 10th:
What’s Alan Watching?: Mad Men, “Shut the Door. Have a Seat”: We’re putting the band back together – “Shut the Door. Have a Seat” felt very much like a caper movie: the jazzy piano music, the intrigue, the plan unfolding perfectly as Lane walked in, got fired by St. John, and walked out happily, leaving a dumbfounded Moneypenny in his wake. Specifically, though, the episode felt like my favorite part of any caper (or other kind of ensemble adventure) movie: the gathering of the team. I have been, and always will be, a sucker for those sequences in movies like “Ocean’s Eleven,” “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Magnificent Seven” where the two leaders (there are always two guys at first, aren’t there?) travel around to assemble the perfect team of experts, explaining their value and using various tricks of persuasion along the way to get them on board.
The Watcher: Checking in with Conrad Hilton: ‘Mad Men’ actor Chelcie Ross speaks – I think [Conrad Hilton is] a zealot, and his zeal was focused on one particular area — his business. They don’t get into it on the show but Conrad Hilton’s private life was just about as rocky as Don’s. He left behind women, he worked all the time. But his zeal for what he’s doing relates to his business and his belief in God and America and what it can bring to the world. He feels that’s his mission — to bring America to the world, and he has bought into it 100 percent.
Mad Men Postmortem – The Daily Beast – It’s so unambiguous to me that this marriage is over, but the audience seems to cling to the idea that they should be together because we want to believe in those things. The marriage was not good. It was built on a lie and the lie was exposed. In the end, Don coming clean really damaged his relationship with her, more than the lying, her seeing who he actually was. I do believe when he says his mother was a 22-year-old prostitute that Betty is looking at something that is very far from what she had planned for herself… That was the whole story of the season. When Henry Francis (Christopher Stanley) came on to her… a switch went off in her head of what was missing in her life, which was a true, romantic attachment. In the end, that combination with her gut feeling that something wasn’t right in her marriage and finding out the truth, they don’t belong together anymore, kids or not. You’ve got to take it pretty seriously when someone’s flying to Reno to get a divorce.
Mad Men Confronts Heaven and Hull: The Season 3 Finale: James Wolcott | Vanity Fair – Although this episode began with ominous echoes of The Godfather…it pedaled into an inspirational tale–an entrepreneurial vision of A Christmas Carol, where everyone comes together under one roof not out of love or family ties or sentimental obligation but out of mutual economic self-interest and buccaneer solidarity, sink or swim, eat or be eaten. “Well, it’s official,” toasts Roger after he, Don, Bert, and Pryce form their rebel alliance. “Friday, December 13, 1963: Four guys shot their own legs off.” The shark cunning entailed in starting up this new agency may seem cold, bloodless, and mercenary—an Ayn Rand mission minus the rhetorical bombast–but the collaborative enthusiasm of this breakout operation was brisk, invigorating: it gave you a lift being in an adult universe where talent and initiative were on the move and mediocrity left behind to fend for itself.
The Watcher: Sterling Coup: A terrific ending to ‘Mad Men’s’ season – ” I was just transfixed by Sally’s watchful brown eyes. She just kept looking from parent to parent, waiting for someone to tell her the truth. More effectively than anyone else has ever done, she called Don on his b.s. “You say things and you don’t mean them! You can’t just do that!”
Later, we see Sally once again in front of the TV, her comforter, her friend. Carla and the TV are the most stable forces in Sally’s life. Truth be told, Carla being the biggest influence on Sally’s life would not be a bad thing at all.
Later when Bobby was clinging to Don’s body like a little monkey, unwilling to let go, holding on tight with every limb — that was heartbreaking.”
Footnotes of Mad Men: Goodbye, All Our Pretty Horses | The Awl – Don’s revulsion at being sold off has to do both with his free-pony-roaming the-silvery-plains sense of individualism (DREAMY) and also McCann Erickson’s noxious reputation in the 1960s. ‘Giantism’ was their business ethos. Beginning in the early 1960s, McCann-Erickson, then known as Intergroup McCann-Erickson, gobbled up a mid-sized shops and retained them under one umbrella, but still forced them the compete for clients. This had an upside: two agencies could be under the McCann Erickson parent with one shop servicing American Airlines and the other shop servicing TWA. And a downside: the fear, at the time, was there would be leaks and betrayals between agencies. In 1964, Nestle left McCann-Erickson because they also serviced Carnation. Continental also withdrew their business because McCann was in bed with other airlines. “Bigness is an evil,” a Nestle executive explained, “that strains relationships that ten years ago were very warm and close.”
Eschaton – Evil Google – “As is occasionally pointed out when journalists and news business people complain that Google is stealing their content, if they don’t want Google to index their pages they can simply… tell Google not to index their pages by inserting a bit of code into them. What they really want Google to do is pay them for the privilege of making money from a derivative of their product, the way book reviewers always pay novelists, for example.”
A few interesting links collected October 1st through October 2nd:
The Outfit: A Collective of Chicago Crime Writers: If You Wanna Win You Gotta Learn How to Play – The whole Olympics is going to be like this–a game in which Chicagoans will be made to feel like they should be emotionally invested when the real players will be behind the scenes: the guys with contracts waiting to be signed, and properties on the Olympic venue Monopoly board … Maybe the games will lose money on the whole, but some people, people on the inside, are going to make Benjamins by the bagful. These are the people who exaggerate the benefits, who make it sound like Chicago needs the Olympics more than the Olympics needs Chicago (a dubious claim if only because the IOC stands to make another half billion or so in television rights for summer games on US soil) so that you’ll support an endeavor that will line their pockets.
Michael Wolff on Rupert Murdoch | vanityfair.com – more than being about cost, [Rupert Murdoch’s] strategy is about pain. What he is always doing is demonstrating a level of strength and will and resolve against which the other guys, the weaker guys, cower. He can take more pain than anybody else. While others persist in the vanity of the Internet, he will endure the short- or medium-term pain necessary to build a profitable business.
Either Rupert Murdoch is too close a friend of most US media conglomerate CEOs, or else they are scared of incurring Murdoch’s wrath. What other explanation for the lack of coverage of the juicy Guardian UK scoop regarding Murdoch illegality?
But so far the Guardian, which last Wednesday broke the news of how two newspapers belonging to Rupert Murdoch illegally hacked into the mobile phone accounts of “two or three thousand” people, as well as “gaining unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemized phone bills [belonging to] Cabinet ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars” has the story pretty much to itself.
On the surface this is surprising. Here, after all, is a story that combines boldface names like Gwyneth Paltrow, Elle MacPherson, Nigella Lawson and George Michael with the official spokesman of the Conservative Party (Andy Coulson, media strategist for Tory leader David Cameron, was editor of the News of the World when the paper allegedly paid private investigators for access to the celebrities’ accounts) and Rupert Murdoch, the world’s most powerful media baron. The BBC put the story at the top of its world news lineup, and followed up the next day with a story about how some of famous targets were contemplating lawsuits. So why has the Guardian’s incredible scoop turned out to be a 2 day wonder?
Rupert Murdoch’s News Group News papers has paid out more than £1m to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists’ repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories.
The payments secured secrecy over out-of-court settlements in three cases that threatened to expose evidence of Murdoch journalists using private investigators who illegally hacked into the mobile phone messages of numerous public figures as well as gaining unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemised phone bills. Cabinet ministers, MPs, actors and sports stars were all targets of the private investigators.
Today, the Guardian reveals details of the suppressed evidence, which may open the door to hundreds more legal actions by victims of News Group, the Murdoch company that publishes the News of the World and the Sun, as well as provoking police inquiries into reporters who were involved and the senior executives responsible for them.
When the high court last summer ordered the News of the World to pay damages to Max Mosley for secretly filming him with prostitutes, the paper was furious. In an angry leader column, it insisted that public figures must maintain standards. “It is not for the powerful and the influential to run to the courts to gag newspapers from publishing stories that are TRUE,” it said. “This is all about the public’s right to know.”
Even as those words were being published, lawyers and senior executives from News International’s subsidiary News Group were preparing to run to court to gag Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, who was suing the News of the World for its undisclosed involvement in the illegal interception of messages left on his mobile phone.
By persuading the high court to seal the file and by paying Taylor more than £400,000 damages in exchange for his silence, News Group prevented the public from knowing anything about the hundreds of pages of evidence which had been disclosed in Taylor’s case, revealing potentially criminal behaviour by journalists on its payroll. It also protected some powerful and influential people from the implications of that evidence.
Scotland Yard disclosed only a limited amount of its evidence to Taylor. The Guardian understands that the full police file shows that several thousand public figures were targeted by investigators, including, during one month in 2006: John Prescott, then deputy prime minister; Tessa Jowell, then responsible for the media as secretary of state for culture; Boris Johnson, then the Conservative spokesman on higher education; Gwyneth Paltrow, after she had given birth to her son; George Michael, who had been seen looking tired at the wheel of his car; and Jade Goody.
When Goodman, the News of the World’s royal editor, was jailed for hacking into the mobile phones of Palace staff, News International said he had been acting without their knowledge. One of the investigators working for the paper, Glenn Mulcaire, was also charged with hacking the phones of the Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes, celebrity PR Max Clifford, model Elle MacPherson and football agent Sky Andrew as well as Taylor. At the time, the News of the World claimed to know nothing about the hacking of these targets, but Taylor has now proved that to be untrue in his case. Others who are believed to have been possible targets include the Scottish politician Tommy Sheridan, who has previously accused the News of the World of bugging his car; Jeffrey Archer, whose perjury was exposed by the paper; and Sven-Göran Eriksson, whose sex life became a tabloid obsession.
Patrick Fitzgerald may be the most feared prosecutor in the country, but even as he’s racked up headlines for big-name convictions (Scooter Libby) and indictments (Rod Blagojevich), the hard-charging U.S. attorney from Chicago has been waging a private crusade: trying to kill a book he believes maligns his reputation. In the past year and a half, Fitzgerald has written four letters to HarperCollins—owned by Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp.—demanding it “cease publication” and “withdraw” copies of Triple Cross, a 2006 book by ex–TV newsman Peter Lance that criticizes Fitzgerald’s handling of terror cases in New York in the 1990s. Fitzgerald raised the temperature even more last week, aiming to halt a paperback version. “To put it plain and simple,” he wrote in a June 2 letter obtained by NEWSWEEK, “if in fact you publish the book this month and it defames me or casts me in a false light, HarperCollins will be sued.”
Media experts say Fitzgerald’s letters, written on personal stationery and totaling 30 pages, are unusual for a top lawman. “We certainly find it highly offensive that a federal prosecutor would do something like this,” says Gregg Leslie of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. But Fitzgerald makes no apologies. The book’s claims, he wrote in an e-mail, are “outrageously dishonest.” He says that Lance “alleged that I deliberately misled courts and the public” in ways that led to the 9/11 attacks.