Rupert Murdoch: Any new News Corp. atrocities, recently?

Rupert Murdoch pimps the news

Rupert Murdoch pimps the news

From the New York Times:

A damning report on the hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers concluding that Mr. Murdoch is “not a fit person” to run a huge international company has convulsed Britain’s political and media worlds and threatened a core asset of Mr. Murdoch’s American-based News Corporation….

It said the use of illegal reporting methods and the efforts to thwart inquiries into the practice came from a culture that “permeated from the top throughout the organization and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International,” its British newspaper subsidiary.

“We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company,” the report said.

OK. But like I said in the headline, any new News Corp. atrocities, recently?

Rupert haters have been saying this forever. That it took hacking the phone of a dead girl to bring this about shows how corrupt the company is. Yes, the fact that a government body comes out and says it shows it’s a big deal, but look at how the decision came about. When the members of Parliament voted on the language of the report, all of the Conservatives voted against the wording “is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company,” and all the members of Labour and the Liberal Democrats voted for it. It’s a purely partisan vote. Labour wants the Tories to say that Rupert is a fit person to run a company. It’s a political hammer to use in the next round of elections. The Conservatives can’t say anything different because they’re in power because of Murdoch. And the Lib Dems, who have no credibility anymore since they shacked up with the Tories, are trying to get back into the good graces of their liberal constituencies by attacking an obvious target.

Bottom line, it the Brits really felt Murdoch was unfit to run an international company, they’d start taking apart his empire in the U.K. Keep track of how they deal BSkyB, the U.K. television network that News Corp. has a minority stake in. If they don’t take that away, they aren’t going to do anything.

And honestly, why should Rupert even care about what the Brits think? He already owns that country, and he’s got his sights set on bigger fish. His goal is to take over the political system in America, and he already owns one of the two major parties in the U.S. (When at one time you have most of a party’s potential major candidates for the presidency on your payroll, you own that party. Meanwhile, the people who make up the one he doesn’t own don’t have the balls to say he’s “unfit” because they’re terrified of him. If his fitness as a boss ever came to a vote in Congress, Rupert would win.

With overwhelming bipartisan support.

It’s fun to watch the New York Times fall over itself in its rapture over this development. Rupert has made it clear since he took over the Wall Street Journal that he wants to destroy America’s best newspaper. The sniping on both sides has been entertaining (remember the WSJ piece about feminine-looking men that used as part of an illustration the mouth of the New York Times’ publisher? That’s classic Rupert. Don’t think the Times was going to let that slide). After that, it seems, the publication hated by the right went into full “destroy that Aussie bastard” mode. So a couple of the world’s biggest elitists are busy bitch slapping each other. The Times is getting its shot now. Wait a few weeks and Rupert will come up with something better.

What tops it all off: News Corp. stock rose today after the report came out. How is this possible?

Investors think this is good news because they’re hoping it will force Murdoch to dump some unnecessary properties to focus on the core business and drive the stock price up.

Here’s what the Wall Street Journal said about that:

News Corp. shares rose 19 cents to $19.79 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading Tuesday. “To the extent the Murdochs are forced to run the company in a more investor-friendly manner,” investors are upbeat, said Maxim Group analyst John Tinker. He cited the potential to shift some power to Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey, who is popular with investors.

So what the Brits just did is literally add about a million dollars/pounds/euros to Rupert’s already fat bank account. Yeah, I’m sure he’s going to lose sleep over this.

(And by the way, just so I make myself clear: Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.)

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The latest Fox News fakeout

I guess you’ve seen gas prices have gone up, again? And I guess you’ve seen Fox News’s take on it. Right now, the narrative from the Ministry of Propaganda for the Republican/Tea Party is that high gas prices are President Obama’s fault.

But gas prices were just as high when George Bush the Dumber was president. I wonder what Fox News said then?

I hate these guys.

By the way, when I was in Belgium and England, gas prices were more than $8 a gallon. People dealt with it. In the U.S., prices are about $4 a gallon. We’re having a meltdown. But I forget, Europeans are wimps as the GOP loves to say.

Oh, and since we’re on the subject of Rupert Murdoch’s news operations, have there been any other News Corp. atrocities recently?

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, the British newspaper division of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, was arrested early Tuesday on suspicion of obstruction of justice, according to a person with knowledge of the arrest. Her husband, Charlie, a friend of Prime Minister David Cameron from their days at Eton three decades ago, was also arrested, the person said.

The police said in a statement that six people in and outside of London had been arrested on Tuesday as part of Operation Weeting, the criminal investigation into phone hacking and other illegal activities at The News of the World and other newspapers. None have yet been formally charged with crimes; in the British system, charges can be filed months after an arrest, and sometimes not at all.

I’m sure Fox News is on top of this story.

The wheel of misfortune

Anybody interested in the criminals working for Rupert Murdoch?

Take a look at this nice round graphic at Pro Publica called “Murdoch’s Circle: The Growing News International Scandal.”

With a click of a button, you can see who’s been implicated, who’s been ousted and who’s been arrested.

It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

The true stories of two Ruperts

Slightly more than 14 months ago, having taken early retirement, I was spending our last couple of months in England living on an estate.

It was our home for a year, situated on about 75 acres next to an English mansion in Kent, about an hour southeast of London. Our home dated back to the 14th century, and was used when the lord of the manner died.  His widow moved in our place so the new lord could take over the mansion.

A Rupert lookalike

We could just barely afford it, but it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. The house was off to the side of a huge mansion that was used for various functions: weddings, seminars, corporate retreats and the like. Ours was a one family house, with a few bathrooms, a couple of kitchens and an indoor swimming pool.

The grounds were out of a Merchant/Ivory movie. Rolling countryside. Manicured gardens, complete with hedgerows, vast open fields where sheep and cows grazed. A couple of hundred yards in one direction was a fruit orchard, growing raspberries, strawberries and blackberries for the local markets. A couple of hundred yards in the other direction was our own fenced in private lake. Actually it was the lake owned by our landlord, but he didn’t live on the property and had said we were free to roam throughout the 75 acres. From our bedroom window, we could watch horses in the adjacent yard, rolling on their backs when they got bored.

We’d regularly see hot air balloons in formation, drifting across the sky following the clouds. At night, the sky was filled with more stars than you’ll ever see in your life. The sky was so clear, that we could stand outside and actually watch satellites high above, one after another eclipsing the stars.

We once watched a fox hunt, dogs barking, trumpets blaring, riders and horses tracking down the pretend fox, because such hunts are now illegal in England. But there were foxes on the property and all other kinds of country wildlife: hares and rabbits and birds. Plenty of birds.

My wife fed the birds, regularly going into the nearest town, buying huge boxes of bird seed, large plastic containers of freeze dried worms, balls of suet and bags of sunflower seeds. The birds came to expect the daily feast. At the crack of dawn, families of fat pheasants would stand outside, waiting impatiently for her to bring out the buffet and pile it up on the knee high stone wall that surrounded the patio. And when she walked away, they would jump up on the wall, a signal to the other birds on the property that feeding time had begun.

And since I was retired, I fell into the bird feeding routine. I’d bring the food out, pile it up and go inside to watch from the kitchen window, because a lot of the birds were too skittish to land while the human was outside in the middle of their cafeteria.

Small birds, large birds, it seemed every bird in the southeast of England showed up for the morning and evening feedings.

So I’m sitting at the window, watching the live National Geographic special playing out on my back porch.

Then the crows show up. For the most part, they were sharing the food with all the other birds. An occasional peck at another bird that got too close, but as long as they all knew to respect the others’ space, no major incident occurred.

Except for one crow.

He was huge. Noticeably bigger than every other crow in the murder. Not as big as the pheasants, but that didn’t matter. Every bird was afraid of him.

How could I tell?

He stood in the middle of the food, not on the edges like the other birds, but right in the middle of the food. Whenever another bird tried to jump on the stone wall, he would peck at it until it flew away. Didn’t matter what size the bird was, large or small. Didn’t matter if the bird was a different species. Didn’t matter if the other bird was part of the crowd he led. This was alpha crow. One bird would try to sneak a bite of food on the side, and he’d go after him. Sometimes a couple of birds would make an effort to feed, and he’d attack every one of them, and after they all flew away, he would go back to standing in the middle of the food, eating undisturbed at his leisure.

The only bird he would allow on the wall with him was his mate. She was just as mean, but all the other birds knew they could take her. When the big black crow left the food to strut around, the other birds would immediately fly to chow down. The mate was no match for them, so the big black crow would immediately come back, chase all the others away and let the she devil feast at her leisure. If she flew away, he would stand there in the middle of the food, not eating, but not allowing any other bird to eat.

I would sit at the window and think: “Hey guys, there’s only one of him and a dozen of you. If you work together, you could kick his butt. C’mon! Take him out!” But they never figured that out. They would just stand around, hungry but too afraid to fight, while this big, mean, arrogant, greedy alpha crow would take his sweet time rummaging through the seeds and worms and suet. I was watching social Darwinism in action.

But here’s what really pissed me off about this particular crow. When he was done eating, before flying off, he would look around at the other birds and take a huge crap right in the middle of the food. He was saying: “Sure, there’s plenty for everybody. And everyone should be able to enjoy this generous banquet. But you can all eat shit, because I rule here.”

I thought about it briefly, and I named the bird “Rupert.”

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There’s a huge press scandal in England. As I’ve noted before, The News of the World, a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., has been caught hacking the phones of celebrities, royalty and politicians. For a number of years, the tabloid has hired private investigators who knew how to access people’s cell phones. They would get into people’s voicemail, listen to their private conversations and if the material was juicy enough, they would plaster the scandal on their front pages. They caught politicians in affairs, dug up dirt on movie stars and revealed scandals concerning the royal family.

When the hacking scandal broke about five years ago, News Corp. said it was just the action of a few rogue journalists. Top News Corp. officials swore before judicial authorities that the hacking wasn’t company policy and that no senior managers were involved. Then as more information came out, it turned out that practically everyone within the News of the World knew what was going on and that it was common practice.

In the meantime, the people who were hacked started to complain. To shut them up, News Corp. made a bunch of payoffs … at least a million pounds so far. And the scandal wouldn’t go away. As the complaints grew, the authorities came under pressure to investigate the matter further. More payouts were made to keep people quiet.

I posted a while back on Hugh Grant’s takedown of one of the News of the World hackers. That action by Grant emboldened more of the people hacked to demand the authorities do something.

And then all hell broke lose this week:

The voice-mail account of a British schoolgirl who went missing in 2002 and whose murdered body was discovered six months later was repeatedly hacked by the News of the World tabloid at a time when no one knew what had happened to her, a lawyer for her family said Monday.

According to the lawyer, Mark Lewis, the newspaper not only intercepted messages left on the phone of the girl, Milly Dowler, 13, by her increasingly frantic family after her disappearance, but also deleted some of those messages when her voice mailbox became full — thus making room for new ones and listening to those in turn. This confused investigators and gave false hope to Milly’s relatives, who believed it showed she was still alive and deleting the messages herself, Mr. Lewis said.

In a statement, Mr. Lewis called the newspaper’s actions “heinous” and “despicable” and said the Dowler family had suffered “distress heaped upon tragedy” upon learning that News of the World “had no humanity at such a terrible time.”

The Brits are up in arms. There are now reports that the hacking was done on the phone of another British girl who was murdered, impeding the police investigation. And it gets worse. Now there are reports that News of the World hacked the phones of the families of the victims of the July 7, 2005, terrorist bombings in London and the phones of the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

The head of News International, Rebekah Brooks, oversees all the News Corp. papers in Britain. She said yesterday in a memo to the staff:

It is almost too horrific to believe that a professional journalist or even a freelance inquiry agent working on behalf of a member of the News of the World staff could behave in this way.

If the allegations are proved to be true then I can promise the strongest possible action will be taken as this company will not tolerate such disgraceful behaviour.

I hope that you all realise it is inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.

Notice, there’s no outright denial of the hacking. And though she says, “it is inconceivable that I knew,” she doesn’t outright say, “I did not do this.” When the alleged hacking took place, Rebekah Brooks went by the name Rebekah Wade. And she was the head of News of the World.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, the woman who has accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of rape is suing Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post:

The Midtown hotel maid who accused French bigwig Dominique Strauss-Kahn of a vicious sexual assault sued the New York Post on Tuesday for reporting she was a hooker.

The defamation lawsuit, filed in the Bronx, was the accuser’s angry response to a pair of Post stories calling her a prostitute whose hotel room encounter was Strauss-Kahn was a sex for money deal.

“All of these statements are false, have subjected the plaintiff to humiliation, scorn and ridicule throughout the world by falsely portraying her as a prostitute,” said the suit.

In the U.K. the newspaper the Guardian has been all over the phone hacking story. In the U.S., the New York Times has been following up on everything the Guardian has been writing. The people who have been affected, or humiliated or pissed off by Murdoch’s holdings (his British papers, his U.S. properties) seem to all be ready to trash him and everything he owns or wants to own. I won’t even try to get into the Fox News fight with Jon Stewart.

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I wonder if, by now, Rupert the crow in Kent may have crapped in the food one too many times?