July 6, 2011

Phone Hacking Scandal - Bearing a strong resemblance to a Ouija Board.

With almost daily revelations surfacing on the News Of The World/News International/Newscorp/Rupert Murdoch scandal, there is still very little being said in our own mainstream media regarding what could very well become the potential takedown of a government. No big surprise there.

As these revelations now involve the former Communications Director for Prime Minister David Cameron, Andy Coulson who was, prior to his appointment, editor of News Of The World and who has subsequently resigned his post with Cameron in January, questions continue to rise over how much Coulson knew and how far reaching actually is this scandal. It's been said to have taken on Nixonian proportions, and that may well be true. That now it is revealed Police bribes and sand bagging have been ongoing since 2009 and earlier suggest the scandal is far more prevalent than previously thought. That this scandal is being paid scant attention here in the U.S. begs to entertain a more sinister atmosphere (not merely the breezy smokescreen that it's the code of ethics among members of the Fourth Estate not to discuss such matters) and that this is a scandal very much about to break on our own shores involving people who have taken the lead of fact-free and loosely procured sources in the name of journalistic integrity, fairly expose the root of what has been a problem ever since our introduction to the ways of The News Of The World and the tabloid atmosphere so much a part of the Murdoch empire.

So as a manner of getting you up to speed and keeping this story from being buried, I am posting three clips that have come out as of today (July 6th). First up is a piece first broadcast on the BBC Radio 4 Today program featuring interviews with Director of Corporate Affairs for News International, Simon Greenberg, Former Managing Editor of The Times Professor George Brock and BBC Business Editor Robert Preston who offers this assessment:

Robert Preston (BBC Business Editor): “George Brock has said that this a hugely damaging set of revelations about a very important bit of Rupert Murdoch’s empire. What is quite striking is that the initial disclosures about the hacking into celebrity’s voice mails didn’t appear to do much damage to the News Of The World circulation or indeed its advertising. But, we’re seeing advertisers saying they’re questioning whether or not to continue advertising and it will be very interesting to see whether or not the News Of The World’s circulation starts to suffer. News Of The World are a hugely important part of this empire because of the series of disclosures that there, to quote a number of commentators, there were no depths to which some journalists would stoop in terms of invading the privacy of vulnerable people.”

Andy Coulson - new revelations.

Next up is a BBC Radio 4 Profile on former Communications Director Andy Coulson whose resignation from the Cameron government in January sparked further revelations over the extent of Phone Hacking at News Of The World and this reaction from David Cameron:

David Cameron: “He did a very good job as Director of Communications both for the government and for the country. He ran the Downing Street Press Office in a very professional and straight forward and correct way, and I think has done some very good work. But I understand why he wants to go with the things that happened at The News Of The World, the stories about that. Obviously he resigned at the time and I’ve always felt he’s been punished for the same offense twice, but I quite understand his position and I wish him well for the future.”

Suspicions are now raised, since the revelations of Police bribes, triggering a Scotland Yard investigation that perhaps David Cameron may have known more than he let on and that this new call for further investigations could be a deflection of sorts of many potential key players, not the least being Rupert Murdoch whose attempt at trying to buy a 100% stake in the Sky Channel may well be the tipping point. At the moment it would seem the attempted lid placed on the scandal has done nothing but fly off at least once a day. How far it will go would be mere speculation at this point.

The last clip is an interview done earlier today with Graham Foulkes whose son David was one of the victims of the bombings in London on July 7th 2005 and whose phone was one of those hacked by News Of The World reporters.

The revelations don't appear to be over by any stretch. My suspicion is it's only a matter of time before revelations about Newscorps activities in the U.S. are discovered. My hunch, and only a hunch not based on anything other than speculation based on reports I'm hearing today, is that this may very well have the potential to bring down the Cameron Government - or at least do serious damage to credibility some weeks or months down the road.

Asked if this is causing cracks in Rupert Murdoch's empire the answer at the moment is no. But strains are appearing. It's interesting the New York Times are being assailed as whistle blowers in all this, blaming a feud with The Wall Street Journal (another Murdoch paper) for setting off the firestorm. I guess it doesn't occur to anyone that, when you have achieved a certain level of perceived impunity it sets up the misconception you have become bullet proof. Scandals are almost always the product of the assumption you're above everything.

Sound familiar? Stay tuned.

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