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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/18/13

American News Media Ignores Critical Media Scandal

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America's corporate news media love highlighting David-besting-Goliath stories"except apparently, when the fallen Goliath is major media mogul Rupert Murdoch -- the billionaire owner of America's caustic FOX News and other entities.

Arguably the biggest Goliath slaying story in the world during the past two years involved the unraveling of Murdoch's news empire in England, where he exerted extraordinary influence over top British governmental officials from police to Parliament and even into that nation's Prime Minister's Office.

But disturbing documentation of wrongdoing by Murdoch minions, such as illegal hacking into telephones, arrests of top Murdoch executives and a scathing report from Parliament, elicited little sustained interest from America's mainstream media into what is known variously as the "Murdoch Scandal' and "England's Watergate."

This lack of "news' coverage interest existed despite the fact that Murdoch's News Corp is also a huge enterprise in the US where Murdoch's FOX News routinely injects its highly partisan self in politics and public policy.

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Even when one of the journalists who exposed America's 1970s-era Watergate Scandal -- Bob Woodward -- broke a story in early December 2012 about a scheme by Murdoch to insert himself into the US presidency, America's news media continued focusing on celebrity fluff and the looming "Fiscal Cliff.'

Woodward exposed a covert effort by Murdoch and his FOX News head, Roger Ailes, to recruit General David Petraeus as a 2012 presidential candidate complete with pledges from Murdoch/Ailes to bankroll a Petraeus campaign personally run by Ailes plus FOX News providing avid on-air support from this candidacy.

Petraeus declined the candidacy offer according to that Woodward report curiously placed by Washington Post editors in an inside section, not on that newspaper's front page.

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"The Murdoch story -- his corruption of essential democratic institutions on both sides of the Atlantic -- is one of the most important and far reaching political/cultural stories of the past 30-years," wrote Woodward's Watergate reporting partner Carl Bernstein in a December commentary published in London's Guardian newspaper. Bernstein blasted the U.S. media for ignoring Woodward's expose'.

Although still reeling from scandals in England, Murdoch continues his wheeler-dealer efforts in the U.S. to win rule changes from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would permit him to expand his News Corp media empire here through increased monopoly ownership.

FCC rules currently bar a corporation from owning newspapers and television stations in the same market.

Given the criminality explicit in the British Murdoch scandal and 24/7 FOX News savaging of U.S. President Barack Obama, why would the Obama Administration consider relaxing longstanding ownership rules to permit Murdoch to buy the top newspapers in Chicago and Los Angeles as he is attempting to do?

The London Guardian's dogged go-it-alone coverage of phone hacking and other misdeeds within Murdoch's English media empire led to that scandal's unraveling, inclusive of Murdoch's July 2011 closure of his beloved News of the World newspaper (then England's largest newspaper).

The May 2012 report from a British Parliament investigative committee declared Murdoch "not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international corporation."

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That report blasted the Australian Media baron (he later acquired US citizenship so he could get around the rule barring foreign ownership of TV stations in the US) for "willful blindness" to the misdeeds of his underlings, whom he kept closely under his thumb until he disavowed knowledge of their misdeeds in an effort to evade accountability.

Murdoch persistently denies knowing about the misdeeds of his News of the World newspaper employees.

One of the arrested Murdoch employees, former newspaper executive Andy Coulson, served as the press spokesman for Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron until January 2011, when he resigned due to mounting pressure from the evolving phone hacking scandal. Police arrested Coulson in July 2011.

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Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban (more...)
 
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