I don't know how many of you have been watching the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal as it grows and digging up the tidbits, but if you have, you already know that the only place not to bother looking is at any of the Murdoch-owned properties in the USA, including the Wall Street Journal and even more particularly Fox News.
This reached hilarious depths this weekend on Fox's own media-analysis show, wherein they discussed everything even vaguely media-related EXCEPT the Murdoch scandal. The big focus was on the Casey Anthony trial and the coverage around it -- and even on that, the discussion was disingenuous and dishonest.
This weekend, Fox News Watch, Fox News Channel's media criticism show, covered the following issues: The media's coverage of the Casey Anthony trial verdict; MSNBC's suspension of Mark Halperin for making vulgar comments about the president; the media's role in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case; the cancellation of In the Arena, Eliot Spitzer's CNN television show; and Vice President Joe Biden's new Twitter account.
The glaring omission from this list is any mention of the shuttering of the Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World, billed as the largest English-language newspaper in the world, which published its last edition today. The paper is folding following allegations that it hacked the voicemails of a slain teen girl in the United Kingdom, an action which potentially impeded the police investigation and gave the girl's family false hope that she was still alive. There are also allegations that family members of soldiers who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and families of victims of the 2005 subway bombings have been phone hacked.
Apparently, there were some brief allusions to it onstage during the commercial breaks:
CAL THOMAS: Anybody want to bring up the subject we're not talking about today for the -- for the [online] streamers?
JAMES PINKERTON: Sure. Go ahead, Cal!
THOMAS: No, go ahead, Jim.
THOMAS: I'm not going to touch it.
JUDY MILLER (FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR): With a ten foot [inaudible].
And the scandal news got even bigger today, with the possibility of prosecution for News Corp officials in the United States looming as well:
But Murdoch may soon have bigger problems on his hands. Legal experts told the AP today that his company could face criminal prosecution in the U.S. for his U.K. papers’ alleged bribery of British police officers, which would be a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). According to the the Department of Justice, “The FCPA prohibits payments made in order to assist the firm in obtaining or retaining business.” Thus the papers’ use of bribery to obtain information which helped sell newspapers could fall under the act’s purview. And even though the bribery occurred entirely in Britian, NewsCorp is an American company, incorporated in Delaware, and held accountable for its foreign subsidiary’s actions. Even if the corporation wasn’t directly involved in bribery, it could be found in violation of the law for turning a “blind eye.”
The legal experts told the AP they would be surprised if the Securities and Exchange Commission and the DoJ have not already opened investigations into the matter and said the decision to shutter News of the World was potentially an attempt to limit Murdoch and NewsCorp’s legal exposure.
As Will Bunch explains, Murdoch's depredations in the USA have actually been more serious and damaging than what's been uncovered by the scandal.
Meanwhile, as something of an absurd endnote, did anyone notice that the Fox News crew tut-tutted those generic "media" figures who decided ahead of time that Casey Anthony was guilty and had convicted her in the media, most notably Nancy Grace.
But the same was true -- in spades -- at Fox News, where the running assumption all along was that Anthony would be convicted, deservedly so. Indeed, check out the fifteen minutes of coverage on Fox just prior to the announcement of the verdict on Monday.
Funny that the Fox media-analysis crew didn't bother to mention that these people were wrong, wrong, wrong. Because at Fox, being wrong isn't a bug. It's a feature.
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