Liberals, unions, Democrats – they all love to hate Rupert Murdoch and his stable of companies, which in this country includes Fox News, the mouthpiece for the Koch Brothers and the most shrill elements of the Republican Party.
But those of us who worked against, and sometimes cooperated with, Fox News and Murdoch’s other media outlets often found it hard to take those “fair and balanced” “news” sources seriously. A company that treats Michele Bachmann’s outlandish rewrites of American history seriously? That routinely uses racial stereotypes in its coverage of the black man in the White House? That gives a popular megaphone to the right-wing in an effort to balance the non-existent leftist tilt of mainstream media? It’s a joke, right?
But the News of the World debacle in England shows that the corporate culture that Murdoch and his son, James, promoted is no joke. The venerable English newspaper tossed nearly 170 years of history when it shut down following revelations that newspaper operatives had conspired with police and others to hack cell phone records of military servicemen killed in the Middle East, relatives of murdered crime victims, and those of the victims of terrorism, including 9-11 victims. That’s no joke. Murdoch’s operatives thought they would get scoops by pillaging the cell phone records of dead men and women.
The Murdochs’ response to the investigation in England has been, until today, an effort to stonewall. The Australian media magnate and his son had rejected a request to appear and answer questions to British parliament, but backpeddled and agreed to appear after government officials threatened to take away the family’s private jet.
More important, perhaps, is that the scandal, despite the company’s best efforts to insulate its far-more-profitable American properties starting with Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, has hopped the pond. The FBI and a congressional representatives from both parties are demanding an investigation into allegations that News Corp. operatives tried similar phone-hacking tactics on 9-11 victims and their families here.
The reality-based community here in this country will likely continue to be appalled by any subsequent unveiling of the Murdoch family’s “journalistic” methods and values, while simultaneously gloating over the dismantling of the American empire, which also includes the New York Post.
But one thing you can be sure of: The “fair and balanced” folks over at Fox News will be the last ones to cover the story. Search Fox News for the story of the FBI investigation and Murdoch, and what you will find is Rupert Murdoch telling the Wall Street Journal that News Corp. will recover from this little image problem.