From the December 11 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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Commenting on Herman Cain's "inevitable" withdrawal from the presidential contest, The Wall Street Journal editorial page today scolds part of the GOP Noise Machine for not dealing responsibly with the initial allegations of sexual harassment made against Cain in early November. It was those allegations that eventually led to the collapse of Cain's campaign.
From the Journal [emphasis added]
More troubling, he clearly hadn't thought hard enough about the challenges a President must confront.
Presidents don't have to be policy wonks, but they should be able to show more than a passing acquaintance with the major issues of the day. Mr. Cain showed that he understands how an economy works, but on foreign policy in particular he seemed almost dismissive of knowing too much, or very much at all. This was especially damaging in a year when GOP voters are looking for a nominee who can go 10 rounds with President Obama.
This is the weakness that the talk-radio establishment overlooked when it dismissed the sexual-harassment accusations against Mr. Cain as one more left-wing conspiracy. Whether true or not, the accusations resulted in settlements by the National Restaurant Association, where he had been CEO. These were facts on the record. They were bound to come out, especially if he won the nomination.
See, it was "talk radio" that led the kneejerk defense of Cain and blindly defended him against harassment allegations.
Except that, of course, it was not.
Fox, which like The Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch, also played a pivotal role in the misguided effort to defend Cain and to claim he was the target of a left-wing conspiracy. Yet for some reason today's editorial makes no mention of Fox's wildly irresponsible behavior.
In case Journal editors need a reminder, here is a sampling of Fox's confused Cain coverage:
Even for media observers who do Rupert Murdoch a favor by asking the press baron to clear an impossibly low bar of corporate behavior, recent revelations must have some wondering if there are any lows Murdoch and his lieutenants haven't yet stooped to.
Britain's epic phone hacking scandal that's destroyed Murdoch's reputation is now being used as a wedge to open a very dark door and provide a disturbing look into a media empire that seems to operate for long periods without a moral compass.
The new, first-person accusations now tumbling out against Murdoch and his minions (on two different continents) are astonishing considering Murdoch is supposed to be overseeing a news organization, not a criminal enterprise. What's been emerging in recent days has been an ugly portrait of a larger corporate culture where rules don't apply.
Instead, media properties are allegedly used in Nixonian fashion to carry out petty vendettas against Murdoch's enemies, or used as carrots to promise friendly coverage to would-be allies. (i.e. Otherwise known as bribes.) It's amoral behavior either way and it's a complete corruption of the press' role in a free society.
For years, many in the media adopted an it's-just-Rupert-being-Rupert attitude when covering Murdoch's blatant transgressions. Whether kowtowing to China's communist government or assigning New York Post reporters to help his lawyers depose a rival CEO, Murdoch has always operated outside the realm of responsible (recognizable?) journalism. And he's been able to get away with it.
It seemed no matter how many stumbles, Murdoch would become the subject of more glossy magazine, Master-of-the-Universe profiles. The transgressions only bolstered his media reputation as a renegade. (I doubt the owners of The New York Times or The Washington Post, for instance, would have been toasted in the press after bounding across so many ethical boundaries.)
Those admiring profiles are now gone forever though, and Murdoch's status will not be restored in his lifetime.
Before the phone hacking scandal blew open in July, victims of Murdoch media wrath were often afraid to come forward because they feared the abuse would only intensify. But now with Murdoch crippled and many of his top executives jettisoned, the veil of intimidation has been lifted and we're starting to better understand what kind of crooked operation Murdoch has been running all these years.
From the November 30 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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Testifying Monday before a government-sponsored ethics inquiry investigating tabloid press behavior, a former British TV anchor detailed the invasive and abusive coverage she and her family suffered for years at the hands of Rupert Murdoch's tabloids. Journalist Anne Diamond claimed Murdoch had encouraged his editors to target her because the anchor had been rude to the press baron when she pressed him about his company's lack of ethics.
Diamond's stinging testimony about being "targeted" came the same day that former child singing star Charlotte Church claimed that when she was 13 years old, she had been asked to perform at Murdoch's wedding. At the time, Murdoch representatives informed her that in exchange for singing at the wedding free of charge, she would receive favorable press coverage from Murdoch's media outlet. (Church accepted the quid pro quo but was soon hounded by Murdoch's tabloids.)
In the wake of the phone hacking scandal that has enveloped Murdoch's News Corp. in Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron created an on-going investigation, known as the Leveson Inquiry. The inquiry has been hosting testimony from major players in British media and entertainment who have recounted abusive treatment they have suffered at the hands of tabloids, and in particular Murdoch's properties.
Diamond became British media star in the 1980's as anchor for TVam. In 1985, Diamond confronted Rupert Murdoch and asked him why he allowed his tabloids to invade people's privacy and destroy people's lives. According to Diamond's testimony, Murdoch replied that if people sought publicity and celebrity status then they forfeited their right to privacy. He added that his tabloids don't ruin people's lives, they ruin their own lives.
Quickly following her pointed questions, Diamond found herself a permanent target of Murdoch's media wrath.
Testifying today before a British ethics inquiry investigating tabloid press behavior, former child star Charlotte Church claimed not only had the press destroyed her career with intrusive coverage, but that when asked to perform at Rupert Murdoch's wedding she was told she would receive favorable coverage from his media outlets, in lieu of a six-figure paycheck.
From the Associated Press [emphasis added]:
Church told the inquiry how she was asked to sing at Murdoch's wedding when she was just 13. She was offered 100,000 pounds ($155,000) to perform, or told she could do it for free in order to be looked on favorably by the Murdoch press.
She said at first she wanted to take the payment but was advised by her managers to skip the payment to curry favor with the mogul.
She said the strategy of seeking Murdoch's favor had obviously failed.
Church also described how one newspaper had a countdown before her 16th birthday to mark the moment when she would reach the age of consent and be old enough to legally have sex.
Church's quid pro quo allegation comes in the wake of startling news from Australia where last week a former senator claimed that he was offered favorable press coverage from Murdoch's local newspapers if he voted against pending media legislation that Murdoch's company opposed.
Amplifying his claim that a high-ranking executive for Rupert Murdoch once offered to orchestrate friendly news coverage for a politician in exchange for a "no" vote in Parliament, a former Australian senator now claims Murdoch's oldest son was present at the lunch where the bribe was first offered.
The Australian Federal Police are currently investigating the bribery allegations, at a time when authorities in Europe and North America continue to examine allegations of criminal conduct by Murdoch's news empire.
Last week, former senator Bill O'Chee claimed that in 1998 when a bill proposing the creation of digital television in Australia was nearing a vote, an unnamed News executive, along with a lobbyist, invited O'Chee to lunch to try to get him to vote against the bill. (Murdoch's company stood to benefit financially if the bill failed.)
In exchange for his support, the Murdoch executive promised a "special relationship" between Murdoch newspapers and the politician, and that he could rely on political support from Murdoch media; that his Australian newspapers would "take care" of the conservative legislator. (O'Chee soon voted yes; the bill passed.)
In a subsequent interview with the Associated Press, O'Chee claimed Murdoch's oldest son, Lachlan, was present during portions of the lunch at which the quid pro quo were discussed. Lachlan at the time was a senior executive in Murdoch's News Corp. empire. (The son resigned his executive position in 2005.)
"This is a very, very serious matter that goes right to the heart of government and something that I'm sure would concern every thinking person," O'Chee told the Associated Press. "It would just be helpful to all concerned if Lachlan Murdoch now admitted the fact that he was present during that lunch, or portions of that lunch, when pay TV was discussed."
According to the AP, the Murdoch executive who took O'Chee to lunch that day was Malcolm Colless, then director of corporate development for News Corp.'s Australian newspaper subsidiary.
Lachlan Murdoch's spokesperson John Connolly last week told the AP that Murdoch had no recollection of the lunch. Over the weekend, Rupert Murdoch's Australian newspaper company issued a statement, "categorically denying" O'Chee's allegations.
The Sydney Moring Herald reports that federal police in Australia are investigating claims by a former legislator that in the late 1990's a senior executive with a Murdoch-owned newspaper offered to "take care" of the politician and create friendly, "special relationship" with him if he voted against a pending piece of legislation that would impact Murdoch's business interests.
According to the Herald, which has seen the nine-page statement given to investigators by former senator Bill O'Chee, when a bill proposing the creation of digital television in Australia was nearing a vote, an unnamed News executive and lobbyist invited O'Chee to lunch to try to get him to vote against the bill. (The Herald notes that while serving in parliament, O'Chee "had a long and difficult relationship with the Murdoch press.")
Referencing O'Chee's account, the Herald reports [emphasis added]:
During the meeting, Mr O'Chee said, the News executive argued that the digital conversion bill needed to be defeated because it would bankrupt regional free broadcasters which could not afford to convert to digital.
''I felt that these arguments were made up because News Corporation had no financial interest in non-pay television broadcasting,'' Mr O'Chee's statement says.
''[I] believed that News Corporation's real interest was the effect the digital conversion legislation would cause to its Foxtel business venture, because it would reduce the amount of people who would want to subscribe for these services.'' The executive then said that while it would be controversial for Mr O'Chee to cross the floor, ''we will take care of you''.
If Mr O'Chee was criticized for his decision, News would use its Australian newspapers to look after him, including running his media releases and opinion pieces. ''[He] also told me we would have a 'special relationship', where I would have editorial support from News Corporation's newspapers, not only with respect to the digital conversion legislation, but for 'any other issues' too.
''I believed that [he] was clearly implying that News Corporation would run news stories or editorial content concerning any issue I wanted if I was to cross the floor and oppose the digital conversion legislation.''
In the end, O'Chee voted in favor of the bill and soon found it "impossible" to get anything published in newspapers controlled by Murdoch's News Corp., even though O'Chee claims he "had been able to do so before the lunch meeting."
The Wall Street Journal reports "News Corp.'s Australian unit Wednesday denied allegations" made by O'Chee.
UPDATE: Greenslade has since written the following:
Let me try to cast a little light on the story about MPs from the Commons media select committee being put under surveillance by the News of the World.
This appears to have gained legs because of an interview I gave to a US site, Media Matters, on Saturday afternoon.
By chance, I had been previously speaking to a source who told me that every member had been shadowed for a period of three days.
Due to the context of the conversation, I took him to mean early in 2011. However, it transpired - after I had given the interview - that he was talking about mid-2009.
That is a very important difference, of course, but I cleared up the misunderstanding with a couple of tweets and also in a phone call to one of the committee members.
However, the substantive matter of MPs being followed remains a live issue - which they are planning to discuss - and this is what I understand to have happened.
While discussing the News Corp. hacking scandal during an appearance on SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio on Saturday, Guardian writer Roy Greenslade said that a confidential source told him that "for three days, only six, seven months ago, every single member of the parliamentary committee investigating this matter were followed by private eyes and/or members of staff of the newspaper. And only after some of the staff protested that they didn't want to do it did the -- were they called off."
Previous reports had revealed that celebrities, politicians, a teenage crime victim, and police had been victims of phone hacking by The News of the World, the News Corp. tabloid that was shut down as a result of the scandal.
From the November 12 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
ARI RABIN-HAVT (co-host): Roy, do you think that News Corp. is a criminal enterprise? To be pointed about it.
GREENSLADE: I think, you know, in truth, it would be way over the top for me to say that. And I was equally distressed that Tom Watson had referred to the Mafia. But, you know, one can understand why he did, for goodness' sake. When we talk about omerta, we talk about a code of silence. Well, for several years, News International, which is the U.K. division of News Corporation, has maintained a code of silence. They have lied, they have deceived, and they have briefed private eyes to follow people. And in Tom Watson's case, you can understand why he was incredibly angry to find that he's been under secret surveillance for several occasions.
And I can add a little to what Steven said, because I do have a source who was in The News of the World, the newspaper that was closed after this debacle. And he tells me that for three days, only six, seven months ago, every single member of the parliamentary committee investigating this matter were followed by private eyes and/or members of staff of the newspaper. And only after some of the staff protested that they didn't want to do it did the -- were they called off.
Now, that goes even beyond what we've previously heard. And I've only just been told this in the last 24 hours, so your audience is getting a scoop here.
RABIN-HAVT: So, are we breaking a little news here?
GREENSLADE: You are breaking a story. I wish I could name the source, but, of course, I have it confidentially.
From the November 12 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
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Reuters is reporting that a journalist from The Sun has been arrested in connection to the continuing investigation into allegations that News Corp. has engaged in widespread phone hacking and bribery -- the latest in a series of arrests of News Corp. employees related to the investigation.
From the Reuters report:
Police investigating events at the News of the World tabloid said they had arrested a 48-year-old in connection with payments made to police. A spokesman for News Corp's British newspaper arm News International said an employee had been arrested.
Two company sources identified the man as Sun reporter Jamie Pyatt.
The scandal has infuriated News Corp minority shareholders, forced the resignations of top British police officers and embarrassed Prime Minister David Cameron who had hired the former editor of the News of the World as his media advisor.
The revelations have led to a string of police inquiries and civil court cases after it emerged earlier this year that the popular tabloid had hacked phones on an almost industrial scale to generate exclusive stories.
From the October 21 edition of Fox News' The Fox Report:
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From News Corp.'s October 21 shareholder meeting:
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The first News Corporation shareholders meeting since news of the company's scandalous widespread phone-hacking broke is scheduled for today in California. News Corp. is already facing a shareholder lawsuit and was recently placed on a list of risky investments as a result of poor corporate governance. The New York Times reports that shareholders will vote on the company's board members and speak directly to the Murdochs at the meeting:
The gathering is expected to be the company's most contentious in years, with frustrated shareholders taking the microphone to demand accountability after a phone-hacking scandal in Britain that has embarrassed the company.
Investors will also have the chance to vote on the company's board members, including Mr. Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan. While the family's 40 percent stake virtually guarantees they will be re-elected, the chorus of discontent has put the company in an uncustomary defensive position.
MP Tom Watson of the British Labour Party will also attend the shareholder meeting:
The most forceful, and potentially most ominous protest is likely to come from Tom Watson, the British Labour Party legislator who has led the investigation into phone-hacking at News Corporation's British newspaper unit. Mr. Watson, who acquired nonvoting proxy shareholder status to attend the meeting, said he planned to accuse the company of engaging in further criminal wrongdoing involving surveillance techniques that extend beyond the phone hacking. He did not discuss potential evidence.
"A lot of institutional investors do not know the scope nor the implications of what's happening in the U.K.," Mr. Watson said in a phone interview. "You can delegate power but not responsibility, and Rupert Murdoch for whatever reason has failed to put in corporate governance arrangements that prohibit crimes from being committed."
Last week, nearly one thousand representatives from business groups, education departments, state legislatures, and free-market think tanks descended on San Francisco's Palace Hotel to strategize a revolution in American education. Focused on state-level politics and driven by marketing buzzwords like "blended learning" and "customized online instruction," it was not the kind of policy powwow that typically draws national media attention.
But education reform is a hot topic these days, and interest in the two-day "Excellence in Action" summit was further heightened by the controversial presence of the summit's keynote speaker: News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch, whose recent foray into for-profit education has focused a spotlight on an increasingly confident and ambitious movement to privatize and digitize American K-through-12.
The debate over the reforms endorsed at "Excellence in Action" has been steadily intensifying. Reform boosters -- a mix of (mostly) Republican state lawmakers, for-profit education companies and their lobbyists, and libertarian ideologues -- maintain that creating a competitive hi-tech education marketplace will make U.S. students more competitive internationally and close the much-lamented achievement gap. Critics suspect an agenda that has more to do with smashing teachers unions and turning tax dollars into profits. Since entering the education reform fray, Murdoch has become a vocal reform booster and unlikely spokesperson for "our children." As he has several times before, he used his time in San Francisco to argue forcefully that what public education needs is a good dose of free-market innovation. "Put simply we must approach education the way Steve Jobs approached every industry he touched. To be willing to blow up what doesn't work or gets in the way."