Running Rupert to Ground ”“ Vox Populi, Vox Dei

By Michael Collins

How will they get rid of Rupert Murdoch and his toxic enterprises?

July 4, 2011 may turn into the people’s Independence Day. On that day, stellar journalist Nick Davies of the Guardian released his story; Missing Milly Dowler’s voicemail was hacked by News of the World. Twelve year old Milly Dowler had been kidnapped with foul play feared. The Murdoch tabloid couldn’t resist. News of the World (the News) hired a private detective to hack Milly’s voicemail. Finding the mail box full, the News or its hired dick deleted existing messages to make room for new ones, all to fuel their ongoing coverage. The deleted messages raised hopes by Milly’s parents that she was still alive and using her voicemail. (Image)

The Davies story elicited a reaction of near universal shock, outrage, and revulsion. Milly had already been murdered by the time the Murdoch paper began its illegal tapping.

The public revulsion resulted in immediate and fervent popular demands for justice. Those demands were compounded by follow-up stories on other Murdoch media hacking. As it turned out, the News also broke into the voicemails of war widows to capture their most intimate exchanges on the loss of fallen soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. All in all, at least 4,000 citizens had their voicemails hacked to boost the Murdoch publication’s circulation and profits.

Driven by broad public ire, Murdoch’s empire began unraveling immediately. He became a target for those he’d tormented, particularly in politics. In just a few days, he became anathema for those he’d placed in power, indicating the focused intensity and force of public outrage. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron fell in line with Labour Party Leader Ed Milliband’s call to stop Murdoch’s critical acquisition of pay TV network BSkyB. The Independent spoke of Murdoch having to abandon his United Kingdom media properties.

The crisis spread across the Atlantic when Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller demanded that law enforcement look into possible voicemail and other electronic surveillance of 9/11 survivors in the United States by Murdoch’s News Corporation.

“I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe.” Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, July 12

The very next day the FBI announced an investigation. Ominously for Murdoch, Rep Peter King (R-NY), endorsed the effort immediately. King has been a friend of Fox for some time and a frequent guest on the network’s news programs.

Ignored in all of this well justified outrage is the ultimate sin of the Murdoch media empire, enabling and encouraging the lethal invasion of Iraq by supporting the insane plans of former President George W. Bush and his collaborator, former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The war took a terrible toll in injuries and deaths of US forces. The anticipated civil strife that followed the invasion resulted in a million dead Iraqi civilians, several million refugees, and, at one point, five million orphans.

Forced Exist Strategies for Murdoch

The legal options in the United Kingdom are fairly straight forward. Two former News editors have already been arrested, Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks. Those devastating blows followed proposals in Parliament block Murdoch’s acquisition, a near certainty now, and to break up his media empire. Murdoch beneficiary, PM Cameron, supported the former and may be forced to support the latter.

The public outrage in the UK shows no signs of waning. The pressure to do something dramatic will reach a fever pitch after Tuesday’s hearings by the Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee. Murdoch and others News Corporation luminaries will face a robust interrogation.

Murdoch has already withdrawn his bid for total control of the lucrative BSkyB cable network. He may lose the ability to keep his current 39% if he’s found an “unfit person” for media ownership.

In addition, the UK has anti-bribery legislation that may apply, the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. News Corporation and executives are vulnerable to charges under the act. A “corrupt transaction” [bribe] is defined as occurring when “any person corruptly gives or agrees to give or offers any gift or consideration to any agent as an inducement or reward” in return for a favor of some kind. Former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, already admitted “corrupt transactions” in 2003 (see below).

Beyond the specific admission by Brooks, there are a number of allegations that the London Metropolitan Police were bribed to limit and impede the investigations into the News phone hacking.

A combination of phone hacking plus violations of the Prevention of Corruption Act await Murdoch. This would go beyond what the The Independent suggested when it wrote of Murdoch, “abandoning his British media interests.”

The rapidly unfolding catastrophe in the UK does something to Murdoch that he can ill afford. It shows that he is vulnerable.

Who shows any sympathy to a vulgar, amoral bully when his time is up?

Rockefeller’s Broadside

Senator Rockefeller’s demand for an investigation of News Corporation is a work of political art. How could a 20 year member of the Senate intelligence Committee raise a question about harassing victim families of the 9/11 attack without knowing the answer in advance? Was the 9/11 question raised to open the door for a broad based attack on Murdoch in the US?

Murdoch is clearly a toxic force in politics and a menace to rational governance even by the standards of oligarchs. His propaganda for the Iraq invasion left dead and injured, a shattered reputation for the nation, diminished effectiveness overseas, and added four trillion dollars in debt. The Tea Party movement with its cast of borderline politicos is out of control. Sarah Palin’s targeting rhetoric was closely associated with the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, (D-AZ).

Most recently, the fruit of the Fox fueled Tea Party juggernaut, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, showed a willingness to take the nation and the world into a devastating economic depression with their impossible requirement for a balanced budget before raising the US debt ceiling. This indicates a massive disconnect with reality.

Murdoch’s News Corporation has the power to create all of this havoc and more. It is autonomous and subject only to the profoundly distorted political whims of its tottering leader. Murdoch mischief amounts to very real threats that are unacceptable for those with the ability to put Murdoch out of business.

Running Murdoch Out of the US

If Murdoch’s time has come, a variation of this scenario is available as you read these words.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is used to prosecute bribes of foreign officials. Created in the late 1990s, the act was signed by thirty-four nations, including the US and the UK. The Justice Department has used the act frequently in recent years.

News Corporation’s Rebekah Brooks has already admitted giving cash to the London Metropolitan Police at a 2003 public hearing. Brooks was editor of the News at the time.

Federal prosecutors have combined the FCPA with The Travel Act of 1961 to increase the penalties and convictions for foreign bribery. Brooks is a citizen of the UK. However, her acts are the ultimate responsibility of Murdoch’s News Corporation, incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in New York City. The act outlaws travel and communications from one state or country to another country with the intent of violating the law. Federal prosecutors can indict perpetrators using applicable state law. New York State law classifies bribing a public official as a felony as is interfering with the administration of justice.. Therefore, News Corporation could be charged with felonies under The Travel Act, FCPA, and New York criminal code.

Here is the Brooks testimony admitting cash payments to the London police. Also at the inquiry was Andy Coulson, News of the World Editors, 2003-2007. Brooks was editor of the News form 2000-2003.

Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee, March 2003

Committee: And I might just ask have they [the News] ever paid the police? Just the one element of whether you ever pay the police.

Brooks: We have paid the police for information in the past and it’s been …

Committee: And will you do it in the future.

Brooks: It depends on…

Committee: Will you operate within the code and within the law.

Andy Coulson: We operate within the code and within the law and if there’s a clear public interest and the same holds for private detectives, for subterfuge, for video bags, whatever you want to talk about…

Committee: It’s illegal for police officers to receive payment

Coulson: No, no, no, we don’t, I just said, ”˜within the law.’

This testimony fits in neatly with the accusations that the News paid off London police to slow-roll the phone hacking investigation.

If they want Murdoch, they’ve got him. Wide spread speculation that Murdoch is subject to indictment will drive down News Corporation shares, costing Murdoch billions, and threaten the viability or even profitable sale of his US properties. The picture may turn grim very soon for the once but not future grand master of media manipulation.

The Voice of the People

Public reaction in the UK has put the entirety of Rupert Murdoch;s British holdings at risk. Since July 4, the public reduced the press overlord who made and controlled British politics to the status of a flight risk. Can Murdoch relax for a moment in his London mansion knowing that if he ever faces a trial, he will surely have a jury that would do everything it could to make sure he served the rest of his life in a British prison.

These rapid and dramatic shifts have much more to do with the outrage of citizens than with the popular proposals of Labour Leader Ed Miliband that would break up News Corporation’s UK operations. This leader is following the people.

The prospect of a similar public outrage in the US is currently a function of the FBI investigation. Confirmation of the shameless act of spying on the families of 9/11 victims would cause an eruption of anger that would spread across the nation at warp speed. Murdoch would be finished here, one way or another.

Powerful forces will work against this, challenging Rockefeller and others who are, without much doubt, intent on sending Murdoch away. Questioning News Corporation exploitation of 9/11 families is a charge, a deep mark, that will firmly attach to the Fox news outlets, cable, broadcast, and print properties for decades.

The people of the United Kingdom found their voice and demonstrated that they cannot be stopped when they act in unison. The precedent is set. For decades, the citizens of the United States have not had a moment where their unified will caused a rapid policy change. If the opportunity arises, manufactured or not, the precedent may be set here and generalize to broader interests. It is time to stop the extraction of nearly all of the nation’s wealth and power by the very few at the expense of the overwhelming majority.


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Michael Collins

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  • Shares in News Corporation fell more than 5pc in afternoon trading in New York, as the contagion over the News of the World phone hacking scandal spread further into the US and Australia.

    By Katherine Rushton8:30PM BST 18 Jul 2011

    Serious cracks appeared in Rupert Murdoch’s Australian empire as the row placed key deals in jeopardy. In an echo of the furore over News Corp’s proposed takeover of BSkyB in the UK, a $2bn bid by Foxtel – a pay-TV network 25pc owned by News Corp – for rival network Austar faces being derailed at the eleventh hour because of political pressure to stem the power of Murdoch’s organisation.

    Austar, which is 54pc owned by media giant Liberty Global, would be a key asset for Foxtel because it has unrivalled reach in rural and regional Australia, and because the two companies share a valuable pay-TV joint venture, XYZ Networks.

    However, Australian Prime Minister Julian Gillard has authorised a vote on whether there should be a full-scale review of ownership laws in Australia, which stands to substantially delay the deal or scupper it altogether.

    The Austar deal is also under threat from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which had been expected to wave Foxtel’s bid through but looks increasingly unlikely to do so in the face of mounting allegations that Murdoch’s companies are abusing their dominant market position.

    In America, two of News Corp’s independent directors have reportedly questioned Mr Murdoch’s leadership of the company.

    more at The Telegraph

  • of Dr. David Kelly, it will probably be death from natural causes.

    “The death is currently being treated as unexplained but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.”

    Unless, of course, the Powers That Be want it otherwise….

    It’s “natural” for the powerful, such as Murdoch, to off their dangerous critics. Last September, when Hoare talked to the NYTimes, he could be brushed off; now he can’t. Thus, in a way, this could well be found to be death from natural causes….

  • affect the case. Now if it happened right before all this came out I think I would wonder-but there is so much other evidence in play. I’m betting they say overdose or heart attack because of drugs and alcohol.

  • of the death since there is so much evidence already out there. First, whacking people to make it look like a natural cause is a normal technique if intelligence orgs — or private spin-offs. Second, killing the guy serves as a warning to others to keep their mouths shut. Third, the cover-up includes a cooperative medical examiner.

    The police immediately putting out a statement that it is not suspicious is in and of itself a “tell.” Good grief, of course it is suspicious based on the timing.

  • the lulzboat has sailed back around , they have hacked news international & the Sun tabloid to redirect to their twitter!
    News international redirected Sun press release: also redirected….!/lulzsec including such taunts as:

    This is just as fun on the inside. We are battling with The Sun admins right now – I think they are losing. The boat has landed… >:]
    Oh, we forgot to mention that we sailed over to News International and wrecked them too. Nearing 300,000 followers… full steam ahead!
    Arrest us. We dare you. We are the unstoppable hacking generation and you are a wasted old sack of shit, Murdoch. ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWER!

  • Bloomberg, By Andy Fixmer, Ronald Grover and Jeffrey McCracken, July 18

    News Corp. is considering elevating Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey to chief executive officer to succeed Rupert Murdoch, people with knowledge of the situation said.

    A decision hasn’t been made and a move depends in part on Murdoch’s performance before the U.K. Parliament today, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Murdoch would remain chairman, the people said.

    News Corp. executives who watched Murdoch, 80, rehearse for his appearance were concerned about how he handled questions, according three people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Murdoch and his son James are scheduled to discuss the company’s role in the alleged phone hacking of murder victims, members of the royal family and others by the News of the World, which was closed on July 10.

    “This will be a heavily reviewed performance,” said Laura Martin, an analyst with Needham & Co. in Pasadena, California. “Who would have thought this could happen two weeks ago?”


    “Rupert Murdoch controls the votes of the company through the Class B shares,” Charles Elson, director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware, said this week in an interview. “He can just replace them if he wants. They may do something, but it will be temporary. Maybe he becomes chairman, but this is still his company and he can do what he wants. When he controls the stock, he controls the board.”

    Through a family trust, the Murdochs own 306.6 million shares, or 38.4 percent, of News Corp.’s Class B voting stock, according to the company’s proxy statement. Including other family holdings, Rupert Murdoch controls 39.7 percent of the voting power, giving him effective control, filings show.

    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • Rupert Murdoch, son apologize to lawmakers but deflect phone-hacking blameRupert Murdoch, son apologize to lawmakers but deflect phone-hacking blame

    Washington Post, By Anthony Faiola, July 19

    LONDON — Calling it “the most humble day” of his life, Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch confronted angry lawmakers Tuesday, insisting they did not know the scope of phone hacking at their News of the World tabloid and apologizing for being the source of one of the worst crises in the history of British media.

    On a day of reckoning for News Corp. in Britain, Rupert Murdoch, a baron of the conservative press whose media empire runs from Fox News to the saucy old tabloids of Fleet Street, put himself forward to face a nation’s fury. Murdoch repeatedly pounded his hand on a table at the select parliamentary committee hearing as he testified but appeared removed from day-to-day details of the scandal and unprepared for the almost forensic lines of questioning.


    It was the first time the Australian-born Murdoch has addressed such a forum, and he often turned to his 38-year-old son, who oversees the company’s British operations, to field questions for him. But he was pressed at times to answer himself — occasionally offering the blunt remarks of a hard-boiled newsman.

    Murdoch, for instance, vowed not to resign, saying, “I feel that people I trusted . . . let me down . . . and I think that, frankly, I’m the best person to clean this up.”


    “There were people in the company which were apparently guilty, and we have to find them and we have to deal with them,” Murdoch said at one point.

    Rupert Murdoch, a hands-on newspaperman

    Reuters, By Mark Hosenball and Kate Holton, July 19

    To illustrate the extent to which Rupert Murdoch used to micro-manage his newspapers, a one-time Murdoch editor told an anecdote about a typical board meeting at the mogul’s UK newspaper arm in the 1980s.

    News International directors, including some of the most powerful newspaper editors in Britain, would solemnly assemble in a board room within Murdoch’s fortress-like publishing compound at Wapping, not far from the Tower of London.

    Once assembled, Kelvin MacKenzie, the editor who ran Murdoch’s raucous daily tabloid the Sun between 1981 and 1994 and made it the most influential newspaper for much of the Thatcher era, would ask: “Right. Who’s going to ring Rupert, then?”

    The anecdote was delivered with a smile. But senior journalists and corporate officials who have worked at the highest levels of the Murdoch organisation in Britain say it encapsulates a deep truth about the way the Murdoch newspaper empire has traditionally been run.


    Roy Greenslade, a media commentator for the Guardian who worked as a senior editor at both Murdoch’s Sun tabloid and the quality Sunday Times, said that from what he saw and heard, Murdoch’s personal editorial involvement was much deeper with his British tabloids than with his two up-market papers, The Times and the Sunday Times. Current and former employees of the Wall Street Journal say that’s the case at that paper as well.


    “Rupert comes across as quite unassuming,” said one. “‘The quiet assassin,’ we used to call him. He used to turn up unannounced — you wouldn’t know he was there. No jacket, sleeves rolled up, at the back bench, quite hands-on.”

    Perhaps falling asleep at the hearings today was all part of his being unassuming…

    Murdoch’s wife slaps foam-pie thrower

    Washington Post, By Karla Adam, July 19

    LONDON — Rupert Murdoch’s 42-year-old wife, Wendi Murdoch, became the hero of the Twitterati during Tuesday’s parliamentary hearings here when she landed an impressive strike on the assailant who hurled a foam pie at her husband.

    Murdoch has been criticized this week for flitting around New York and Los Angeles to the premieres of her first movie, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” which she produced, and not being beside her husband as the phone hacking crisis engulfed News Corp.

    But in one swift smack, redemption was hers.

    Dressed in a bright pink jacket and a black skirt, the former volleyball player leapt to smack her husband’s attacker on the head, prompting a flurry of tweets like the one from @BorowitzReport: BREAKING: Obama Invites Wendi Murdoch to Help Him Meet with Republicans

    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

  • Murdoch Hacking Scandal Spread From Celebrities to Murdered Girl: Timeline

    Bloomberg, By Alex Barinka and Robert Hutton, July 19

    The phone-hacking scandal that rocked Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. media empire spread from royals to politicians and celebrities over five years, before reaching a tipping point two weeks ago.

    From August 2006 through July 4, the scandal remained largely confined to the U.K. The News of the World royal correspondent was jailed, Parliament ordered hearings and celebrities including Sienna Miller and Jude Law sued.

    After July 4 — when the Guardian newspaper reported that employees of the now-defunct News of the World hacked into the voicemail of a kidnapped schoolgirl who was later murdered — the crisis escalated. The scandal led to the resignation of two of London’s top police officers; the arrest of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s former head of communications; an FBI investigation and questions about Murdoch’s leadership at New York-based News Corp., a business he built over six decades.

    Here is a timeline of the phone-hacking scandal.

    One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

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