From the July 14 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
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From the July 14 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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As we've documented, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have called on U.S. authorities to investigate whether the News Corp. phone hacking and bribery scandal violated U.S. law.
Now George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr -- a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a former special counsel for Supreme Court nominations to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), and an expert in computer crime law -- has written that News Corp.'s hacking of individuals in the United Kingdom may violate the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. (And this doesn't even take into account the issue of whether, in addition to victims in the United Kingdom, News Corp. hacked 9/11 victims or other Americans.)
From Kerr's post on the libertarian Volokh Conspiracy blog:
The hacking has had huge ripple effects, ranging from its impact on UK politics to Rupert Murdoch. I wanted to blog about one angle to the story I haven't seen covered elsewhere: Did these intrusions violate U.S. federal criminal law? Put another way, could the federal government prosecute individuals for the hacking in the U.K.?
We don't know all the details yet, but I think it's possible. I've blogged a lot about the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. 1030, which prohibits unauthorized access to protected computers. I've regularly pointed out that this statute is extraordinarily broad, and its breadth is relevant here. Some of the analysis is easy: Hacking in to another person's voicemail box is clearly an unauthorized access, and the computers that host voicemail files are clearly "computers." See, e.g., United States v. Kramer (8th Cir. 2010). But more interestingly, the fact that the hacking was probably all done outside the U.S. probably doesn't matter, even if all the computers that were hacked are outside the U.S. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act extends to computers outside the United States in most circumstances. Here's the key statutory language:
the term "protected computer" means a computer . . . which is used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or communication, including a computer located outside the United States that is used in a manner that affects interstate or foreign commerce or communication of the United States;
One significant uncertainty is how much if any nexus to the United States is required under the Foreign Commerce Clause to constitute a channel of foreign commerce: Does that mean a channel of commerce with the United States, or just among foreign nations? And in the case of an international network like the phone network or the Internet, is the relevant question whether the communications involved the United States at that time or whether the channels themselves interacted with United States networks more generally? These issues don't come up often because prosecutions of foreign conduct are rare. And in the case of the "News of the World" hacks, we don't know what role any U.S. networks or computers played. But depending on how the foreign commerce clause arguments are resolved, there's a chance that the intrusions may be chargeable under United States criminal law in addition to under the law of the UK. [italics in the original]
An oil shale company that counts Rupert Murdoch as both a key investor and member of its "strategic advisory board" is standing by the embattled News Corp. chairman as public outrage grows over allegations that his British tabloids illegally hacked the voicemails of thousands of people and bribed the police.
"Rupert Murdoch is a valued member of Genie Energy's Strategic Advisory Board, and we hope and expect that he will continue in that capacity," Genie Energy chairman Howard Jonas told Media Matters in an emailed statement today.
From the July 13 edition of Fox News' America Live:
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Hollywood stars, according to Reuters, have been "largely silent" on Rupert Murdoch's widening News of the World phone-hacking scandal in part because "few American stars appear to have been targeted" and -- perhaps more significantly -- because many have ties to the Murdoch empire.
An anonymous "industry source" reportedly told Reuters: "'Murdoch touches everybody in some way, so nobody is standing up' to speak publicly."
As celebrities and politicians in the U.K. have already learned, this is a dangerous game to play. For years, investigations into News of the World's illegal activities there were slow-walked, and people of influence remained "largely silent." But after the Guardian broke the news earlier this month that Murdoch's tabloid apparently hacked the voicemails of a teen murder victim, it became impossible to look the other way.
Massachusetts Congressman John Tierney joined Congressman Bruce Braley to call on Congressman Darell Issa, Chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, to hold a hearing on the allegations that News Corp. attempted to hack 9/11 victims and other Americans.
You can read their follow-up letter to Chairman Issa here.
Illinois Senator Dick Durbin called for congressional hearings and criminal investigations into News Corp.'s alleged hacking activites in the U.S. on Meet the Press. He added that "there are questions about whether the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has been violated by Rupert Murdoch and his news empire and what's going on in England is startling."
Michigan Congressman John Conyers, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, announced on Friday that "the Democratic Staff of the House Judiciary Committee will review allegations that News Corp. has engaged in serious and systemic invasions of privacy."
Under intense pressure from its widening phone-hacking scandal, News Corp. today issued the following statement:
NEWS CORPORATION WITHDRAWS PROPOSED OFFER FOR BRITISH SKY BROADCASTING GROUP PLC
News Corporation ("News Corp") announces that it no longer intends to make an offer for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC ("BSkyB") not already owned by it.
Chase Carey, Deputy Chairman, President and Chief Operating Officer, News Corporation, commented: "We believed that the proposed acquisition of BSkyB by News Corporation would benefit both companies but it has become clear that it is too difficult to progress in this climate. News Corporation remains a committed long-term shareholder in BSkyB. We are proud of the success it has achieved and our contribution to it."
From the July 7 edition of MSNBC News Live:
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As Eric Boehlert explained yesterday, the revelations of widespread phone-hacking at News of the World -- and News Corp.'s quickly unraveling cover-up -- are starting to look a lot like Rupert Murdoch's Watergate.
But new allegations suggest an increasingly apt comparison to the actions of another right-winger as well: Oliver North. North (who, interestingly enough, is a current News Corp. employee) "shredded stacks of memoranda and messages" in an effort to cover up the Iran-Contra scandal.
Today, the Guardian reported that "[p]olice are investigating evidence that a News International executive may have deleted millions of emails from an internal archive, in an apparent attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard's inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal." According to the Guardian:
The archive is believed to have reached back to January 2005 revealing daily contact between News of the World editors, reporters and outsiders, including private investigators. The messages are potentially highly valuable both for the police and for the numerous public figures who are suing News International.
According to legal sources close to the police inquiry, a senior executive is believed to have deleted 'massive quantities' of the archive on two separate occasions, leaving only a small fraction to be disclosed. One of the alleged deletions is said to have been made at the end of January this year, just as Scotland Yard was launching Operation Weeting, its new inquiry into the affair.
The story gets stranger from there. According to the Guardian, News Corp. "originally claimed that the archive of emails did not exist," and one News of the World editor reportedly insisted "that the emails had been lost en route to Mumbai." Several months ago, News Corp.'s attorney was forced to retract these claims. Still, the Guardian reports that police believe a company executive tried to delete large portions of the email archive before it was handed over to investigators:
From the July 8 edition of NBC's Today:
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From the July 7 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
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From the July 7 edition of MSNBC's Martin Bashir:
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Could Murdoch's 'News Of the World' Hacking Scandal Happen in the US?
In America, we hold some truths to be self-evident: our news should report facts, and our personal communications should be private. Given the scandal rocking Britain over Rupert Murdoch's tabloid paper News of the World and his huge influence over US media, both of these notions could be in jeopardy.
James Murdoch announced today that amidst a growing furor, News of the World will cease publication on Sunday. Far from resolving the problem, this radical step raises the question of just how deep this scandal goes. The Murdoch-owned paper The Sun has faced similar allegations of phone hacking this year, and no investigation has yet been conducted to see if similar abuses occurred at Murdoch-owned papers here in the United States.
For years now, Murdoch's News of the World has been trying to tamp down the widening scandal involving its reporters who violated the privacy of celebrities, politicians and members of the royal family by hacking into their voicemails in search of juicy stories. The scandal finally boiled over this week, as the Guardian reported that they had sunk much lower: after 13-year-old Milly Dowler was abducted on her way home from school in 2002, News of the World hacked into her phone, listened to her voicemails and deleted several messages--apparently to free more space for Milly's friends and family to leave new messages the paper could listen in on. This led both the police and Milly's family to believe Milly was still alive and clearing her messages, which not only impeded the authorities' search for her abductor but also gave Milly's parents false hope that their daughter was still alive and would come home safely. Her remains were found six months later.
These revelations have rocked Britain. Prime Minister David Cameron called them "shocking." Labour party leader Ed Miliband has called for Rebekah Brooks, former News of the World editor and now one of Murdoch's top lieutenants, to resign. MP Tom Watson is calling for the suspension of Murdoch's son and heir apparent James, who has been transferred out of the country to New York amid speculation that the scandal would only continue to grow.
This is anything but an isolated incident. News of the World spent years invading peoples' privacy: it was how they did business. The younger Murdoch personally approved an enormous settlement related to phone hacking, and alleged abuses are still being uncovered. The most recent of those include the families of the victims of the terrorist bombings of the London Underground, who have come forward to say their phone messages were hacked too. Despite charges that Brooks knew about the hacking, Murdoch has stated unequivocally that she will remain in leadership. Brooks says it is "inconceivable" that she knew of Milly Dowler's phone hacking, but it strains credibility that executives could be blind to the fact that the paper was invading people's privacy for years. At best, it's an inexcusable lack of oversight; at worst, it's a conspiracy to spy on private citizens to sell papers. Either way, it requires action and accountability from the top, and Murdoch's continued support of his long-time lieutenant is one more indication that he puts his personal and political agenda above good business and the common good.
Which brings us back to the United States, where Murdoch's News Corp. owns Fox News, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal. When asked point-blank this spring whether his company was hacking people's phone messages here, Murdoch flatly refused to answer. US shareholders are suing News Corp. for nepotism over the purchase of Murdoch's daughter's company at a highly inflated price and her subsequent promotion to the News Corp. board.
One of the largest News Corp. holdings, Fox News, routinely peddles misinformation about climate change, uses racially charged rhetoric and openly promotes Republican positions and candidates, all while pretending to present "fair and balanced" news. Fox News's Washington managing editor Bill Sammon was even found pushing his staff to tie President Obama to socialism on air, even as he admitted the claim was "rather far-fetched." And advertisers wary of sponsoring dubious content have been fleeing Fox News here just as they are fleeing News of the World in Britain due to indecent, if not illegal, activity.
These are not the problems of a few bad apples but of a whole rotten barrel that threatens news standards and journalistic ethics. For a media icon like Murdoch, who looms large in American culture, scant attention has been paid to the financial and cultural implications of such mismanagement, or to the disregard for public interest from a major media conglomerate. If Murdoch wants to have a positive legacy in journalism, he needs to win back the trust of his millions of consumers who like their businesses clean, their privacy intact and their news to be factual. And if we in America care about the impact of corporate behavior on our lives and our political discourse, we had better start asking some questions. [The Nation, 7/7/11]
Rupert Murdoch's son James announced this morning that following the allegations that Murdoch's News of the World tabloid hacked the voicemails of a slain teen girl, potentially impeding a police investigation and giving the girl's family false hope that she was still alive, this Sunday will be the tabloid's last issue. From the statement:
The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.
In 2006, the police focused their investigations on two men. Both went to jail. But the News of the World and News International failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose.
Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.
As a result, the News of the World and News International wrongly maintained that these issues were confined to one reporter. We now have voluntarily given evidence to the police that I believe will prove that this was untrue and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences.
Inside the Company, we set up a Management and Standards Committee that is working on these issues and that has hired Olswang to examine past failings and recommend systems and practices that over time should become standards for the industry. We have committed to publishing Olswang's terms of reference and eventual recommendations in a way that is open and transparent.
So, just as I acknowledge we have made mistakes, I hope you and everyone inside and outside the Company will acknowledge that we are doing our utmost to fix them, atone for them, and make sure they never happen again.
Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper.
This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World.
Shutting down News of the World should not be an excuse to avoid a full scale investigation across all its media outlets. After all, News of the World is not the only paper facing hacking allegations; News Corp.'s The Sun is also alleged to have hacked into the voicemails of a prominent public figure.
And the rumors that News Corp. is moving The Sun to a seven-day operation provides further evidence that News Corp. is just trying to hide from full accountability of the misdeeds throughout their organization.
After all, while James Murdoch's statement touts News Corp.'s efforts to "examine past failings," he failed to mention that the head of News Corp.'s woefully inadequate previous internal investigation, Murdoch crony and then executive chairman of News Corp.'s newspapers in Britain Les Hinton -- who found no evidence of widespread wrongdoing within the company -- remains a Murdoch confident and serves as CEO of the Dow Jones company, which publishes the Wall Street Journal. Additionally when Murdoch was asked in May if he could assure Americans that there won't be any hacking by the New York Post, Murdoch responded that he had "nothing to say." Hardly the words of an organization eager to accept accountability.
Moreover, this just looks like another attempt for Murdoch to shield another crony, Rebekah Brooks from taking accountability for overseeing the paper at the time of the alleged hacking. Brooks was the editor of News of the World at the time of the alleged hacking of the slain girl's voicemail, but is now one of Murdoch's top lieutenants. Murdoch personally defended Brooks yesterday, and then his News International reportedly tried to laughably say that she was not at fault because she was on vacation at the time if the hacking. But Brooks had previously admitted that under her leadership the paper placed a police detective under surveillance, which she'd reportedly apologized for. Now she's claiming that she was completely ignorant of this subsequent violations of privacy on her watch, and Murdoch defended that behavior as good leadership.
It's good that News of the World will no longer be able to violate people's privacy, but Murdoch shouldn't be allowed to use this enormous distraction to hide from true accountability for his organization's actions.