By Michael Collins
How will they get rid of Rupert Murdoch and his toxic enterprises?
July 4, 2011 may turn into the people's Independence Day. On that day, stellar journalist Nick Davies of the Guardian released his story; Missing Milly Dowler's voicemail was hacked by News of the World. Twelve year old Milly Dowler had been kidnapped with foul play feared. The Murdoch tabloid couldn't resist. News of the World (the News) hired a private detective to hack Milly's voicemail. Finding the mail box full, the News or its hired dick deleted existing messages to make room for new ones, all to fuel their ongoing coverage. The deleted messages raised hopes by Milly's parents that she was still alive and using her voicemail. (Image)
The Davies story elicited a reaction of near universal shock, outrage, and revulsion. Milly had already been murdered by the time the Murdoch paper began its illegal tapping.
The public revulsion resulted in immediate and fervent popular demands for justice. Those demands were compounded by follow-up stories on other Murdoch media hacking. As it turned out, the News also broke into the voicemails of war widows to capture their most intimate exchanges on the loss of fallen soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. All in all, at least 4,000 citizens had their voicemails hacked to boost the Murdoch publication's circulation and profits.
Driven by broad public ire, Murdoch's empire began unraveling immediately. He became a target for those he'd tormented, particularly in politics. In just a few days, he became anathema for those he'd placed in power, indicating the focused intensity and force of public outrage. Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron fell in line with Labour Party Leader Ed Milliband's call to stop Murdoch's critical acquisition of pay TV network BSkyB. The Independent spoke of Murdoch having to abandon his United Kingdom media properties.
The crisis spread across the Atlantic when Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller demanded that law enforcement look into possible voicemail and other electronic surveillance of 9/11 survivors in the United States by Murdoch's News Corporation.
concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp.
may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the
consequences will be severe." Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, July 12
The very next day the FBI announced an investigation. Ominously for Murdoch, Rep Peter King (R-NY), endorsed the effort immediately. King has been a friend of Fox for some time and a frequent guest on the network's news programs.
Ignored in all of this well justified outrage is the ultimate sin of the Murdoch media empire, enabling and encouraging the lethal invasion of Iraq by supporting the insane plans of former President George W. Bush and his collaborator, former Prime Minister Tony Blair. The war took a terrible toll in injuries and deaths of US forces. The anticipated civil strife that followed the invasion resulted in a million dead Iraqi civilians, several million refugees, and, at one point, five million orphans.
Forced Exist Strategies for Murdoch
The legal options in the United Kingdom are fairly straight forward. Two former News editors have already been arrested, Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks. Those devastating blows followed proposals in Parliament block Murdoch's acquisition, a near certainty now, and to break up his media empire. Murdoch beneficiary, PM Cameron, supported the former and may be forced to support the latter.
The public outrage in the UK shows no signs of waning. The pressure to do something dramatic will reach a fever pitch after Tuesday's hearings by the Culture, Media, and Sport Select Committee. Murdoch and others News Corporation luminaries will face a robust interrogation.
Murdoch has already withdrawn his bid for total control of the lucrative BSkyB cable network. He may lose the ability to keep his current 39% if he's found an "unfit person" for media ownership.
In addition, the UK has anti-bribery legislation that may apply, the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. News Corporation and executives are vulnerable to charges under the act. A "corrupt transaction" [bribe] is defined as occurring when "any person corruptly gives or agrees to give or offers any gift or consideration to any agent as an inducement or reward" in return for a favor of some kind. Former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, already admitted "corrupt transactions" in 2003 (see below).
Beyond the specific admission by Brooks, there are a number of allegations that the London Metropolitan Police were bribed to limit and impede the investigations into the News phone hacking.