Have the chickens come home to roost for Rupert Murdoch and his News Corp. organization? We knew that Murdoch’s News Corp. has long brought the element of tabloid practices to the field of journalism with slanted stories, interjected opinions & supposed commentaries by supposed “reporters” with their biases, prejudices, personal agenda and political views – ala Fox News. Now we discover that Murdoch’s tabloid newspapers have long reveled in the misdeeds of others with salacious photos and pun-packed headlines but apparently at any cost – illegal or otherwise. Well, the proverbial – hmph- is starting to hit the fan and Rupert Murdoch, one of the world’s most powerful media executives is finally learning what it’s like to be enveloped in his own scandal.
So far, 10 people have been arrested in the British tabloid, News of the World scandal. A scandal that centers on revelations that so called journalists got information through a variety of possibly illegal endeavors that included phone hacking and bribery of police officers. Criminal investigations are under way in Britain, while the FBI has also begun some preliminary inquiries in the U.S., where the News Corp.’s holdings include the nation’s largest newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Fox TV network and the 20th Century Fox movie studio. Murdoch’s job as News Corp.’s CEO, for now, is secure because he controls 40% of the company’s voting stock. With a fortune estimated at $7.6 billion, Murdoch also remains one of the world’s richest people albeit this scandal has hit him hard in the pocket as News Corp.’s stock plummeted 13% during the past two weeks shedding billions of dollars in value.
The British lawmakers who in the past supported Murdoch for fear of being pilloried in the pages of tabloids no longer appear be in his corner now that their fear of retaliation has all but faded. Murdoch will face tough questions Tuesday when he appears before a Parliament committee eager to question him about the phone hacking and bribery allegations. The more interesting question is how far the investigation will go here in America. Is it a stretch to wonder if we still have the political independence to do a thorough investigation of News Corp or is there too much interweaving of politics, media and corporate power? Hopefully, this media conglomerate will be held accountable if warranted for the reckless pursuit of profit and power at any cost.
Murdoch’s problem is he turned a blind eye to the unethical culture that created his current problems. If there’s a positive side, it’s that he has brought worldwide attention to media outlets that engage in unethical journalistic practices in their pursuit of getting the story at any cost. Perhaps this is also a good time for Washington to consider increasing funding for honest and impartial media outlets like National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting. Just saying.