Tom Watson, the MP who led the charge against Murdoch's UK empire, is asking for help
On the eve of Lowell Bergman's excellent PBS documentary (tonight 10 PM PBS) on the original Hackgate allegations that closed News of the World, we have a data dump which actually takes the hacking allegations to a whole new level: to a global News Corp security group which appears to have been behind pay-TV hacking across the world.
Last Night's BBC1 Panorama Documentary
Through a series of reconstructions, hidden surveillance cameras and interviews with the key players, Panorama alleges that the piracy which crippled ITV Digital was a deliberate attack by the News Corp. subsidiary NDS, which produces about 75 per cent of the encryption software that protects access to pay-tv. The programme centres on an exclusive interview with Lee Gibling, the man behind The House of Ill Compute website which was, until it was closed down in 2001, the main source of codes and software for manufacturing pirate access cards.
For anyone following the #hackgate FOTHOM diaries, you'll know that that the slow motion crash of Murdoch's UK Empire is still developing. But it wasn't until Rush Limbaugh's recent implosion that I began to think this isn't just about News Corp, even though it is the world's 3rd biggest media group and run as a one-man-band. It was in Meteor Blade's Nopology diary early this week, that this thought came to me:
I think there's a connection... (40+ / 0-)
between the slow rejection in the UK of the tabloid style of reasoning (basically trollery and personal insult) and the sudden turning on Rush L.
The British Tabloids and the American Shock Jocks basically thrived on the backlash against the civil liberties victories of the 60s: legislation against racial discrimination, homophobia, the rise of women in the work place and reproductive rights. For 40 years they thrived on right wing white male resentment. They had nothing to offer but trollery because they sought to to interfere with communication about race, gender and sexuality, but without an alternative agenda or real ideology, except that of opposition, reduction ad absurdum (looney left fictions about banning nursery rhymes etc) and the shock value of mockery.
This was never anything but a reactionary tribute to all the victories of the 60s. The candidacy of Sarah Palin was the ne plus ultra of this political style. Rebarbative, provocative, posited on antagonism alone, it never could offer much more than a macho guffaw and muttering of unfocused dissent.
Forty years on, the people who find this stuff amusing are diminishing. Shock Jocks have run out of positions. They can only flame out or die down.
The other connection is the rise of social media and blogs like DKos. They can organise dissent. Avaaz and 38degrees focused on the advertisers during the News of the World scandal, and when the public summoned enough outrage through twitter and email, the advertisers withdrew from the paper. That's what killed News of the World.
Thanks to new media, we really aren't passive consumers anymore, but can communicate directly with those to attempt to appease us. I guess this is what has happened to Limbaugh.
Actually this Kos comment was just a combination of two comments I'd made on the Moose in Strummerson's Diary - so that just shows where my real thinking happens.
This is an abbreviated post-festum version of My DKos diary which - because the sessions overran for two hours - I had to abandon before it Rebakah Brooks' testimony. Much played out as I expected it - as you will see in the diary below.
Because testimony wasn't under oath, because MPs aren't trained investigators (like the forthcoming Commissions of Enquiry), and because Rupert, James and Rebekah could hide under the cloak of 'ongoing investigations, it was always bound to be a damp squib investigatively.
However it was full of drama - and even pie!
An annoying and distracting moment, like most pie fights I've seen. Fun in some way - but completely counterproductive. The real drama came from the Wizard of Oz moment.
Whether it was calculated or not (I really doubt it was calculated) the curtain was pulled on the wizard, and what we saw was a rather bumbling, angry, pompous old man used to being powerful, but when it comes to the question "Do you bear any responsibility" the answer was "Nope."
But this is important. Merely tearing the veil on the secret unaccountable power of the Murdochs is a revelation in itself. Murdoch never governed by being loved, by being charming, or by being intellectually respected: he swayed his secret powers by fear: fear of being exposed by him, salaciously, financially, politically, personally.
Now that fear has gone, the emperor has no clothes.
Full diary beyond the flip - I think, in the main, I predicted well. But Moosers, tell me what you think
After Bloody Friday, and the late but inevitable resignation of Rupert Murdoch's two closest personal lieutenants - Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton - News Corp are trying to run damage limitation: apologies in the British Press, denials of hacking 9/11 victims.
But despite the best attempts of their PR firm Edelman, this will not wash, and there's already enough known and proven in the public domain to turn our attention to the Newscorp Executive who took over from Hinton as head of Newscorps European arm, and who supervised the payout of millions in hush-money to the victims of phone hacking two years ago: a certain man by the name of James Murdoch.
As Michael Wolff - the Vanity Fair writer and biographer who knows the ins-and-outs of the family court - tweets:
Wolff also corrects the rumours yesterday that Elisabeth Murdoch said "Rebekah fucked the company" at a book party last Sunday. No, she didn't say precisely that. James' sister said:
"James and Rebekah fucked the Company"
So here's a little more about the crass libertarian ideology that has driven her brother - and potentially the company - over the cliff.
Even Rupert himself is showing signs of flagging. He's just released a rather dispirited, desultory but defiant interview in his own Wall Street Journal in which the main message really seems to be:
Though many of you have been sceptical that the US public or MSM would pay attention to this, it seems some of the massive public revulsion here in the UK is beginning to transfer to Murdoch's adopted homeland and commercial base - the United States.
But there's more to this than just law-breaking: there's Murdoch's nefarious role in law-making.
BREAKING,-Murdoch-withdraws-bid-for-BskyB: News International has now entirely withdrawn its bid for 100 percent of Britain's Biggest Broadcaster - BSkyB. Tenacious investigative journalism, political pressure, and immense people people exercised online and through our elected representatives have seen off this threat - the greatest threat to media plurality and political transparency in my lifetime.
Now keep pushing for Murdoch to be discredited and disarmed in US public life
In a written statement, Mr Rockefeller said he was concerned that hacking by News Corporation journalists may have extended to American targets, including victims of the 11 September attacks.
He did not present any evidence to support that claim, but called on the authorities to look into any possible wrong-doing.
"I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated," he said.
"The reported hacking by News Corporation newspapers against a range of individuals - including children - is offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics. This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken US law."
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, who called Tuesday for a formal probe into whether alleged improper behavior extended to US citizens, told reporters that his "bet" was that "we'll find some criminal stuff."
Asked whether he was saying he thought there would be evidence of criminal acts in the United States and whether he was referring to possible phone hacking, Rockefeller replied "yeah" each time.
Gordon Brown in the House of Commons has just called News International "a criminal-media nexus".
FINAL UPDATE: well it seems this news has caused a stir across the pond, not only with shareholders wondering why Murdoch treats Newscorp like "family candy" but a call from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington calling for a Congressional Inquiry into Newscorp:
Despite claims by NI executives that the phone hacking scandal enveloping Murdoch and his media empire was confined to the now-defunct News of the World, new evidence shows other Murdoch papers used the same tactics. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was repeatedly targeted for more than a decade by other Murdoch publications.
Further, a former New York City police officer claims he was offered money by News of the World journalists to retrieve the phone records of 9/11 victims and their families.
Yes, the scandal that is shaking the Murdoch Empire is expanding to the US, implicating not only the publisher of the WSJ in hacking the Royal Family with details bought from the police, but also - just as they hacked the victims and relatives of the London 7/7 bombings - there are reports that News International tried to suborn US police officers for hacking details of victims the 9/11 attacks.
a former New York cop made the 9/11 hacking claim. He alleged he was contacted by News of the World journalists who said they would pay him to retrieve the private phone records of the dead.
Now working as a private investigator, the ex-officer claimed reporters wanted the victim's phone numbers and details of the calls they had made and received in the days leading up to the atrocity.
A source said: "This investigator is used by a lot of journalists in America and he recently told me that he was asked to hack into the 9/11 victims' private phone data. He said that the journalists asked him to access records showing the calls that had been made to and from the mobile phones belonging to the victims and their relatives.
"His presumption was that they wanted the information so they could hack into the relevant voicemails, just like it has been shown they have done in the UK. The PI said he had to turn the job down. He knew how insensitive such research would be, and how bad it would look.
"The investigator said the journalists seemed particularly interested in getting the phone records belonging to the British victims of the attacks."
This comes hard on the heels of revelations from Robert Peston at the BBC that emails, seen by senior NI executives in 2007, but only handed to the police a few weeks ago, show that the News of the World paid police domestic protection officers, looking after the Royal Family, for private phone numbers and personal details...
Regarding the emails that were found in 2007 but only passed to the police on July. At least some of them provided evidence that the NOTW was buying the contact details of the Royal family and their friends from a Royal protection officer. This suggests that the security of the head of state was being compromised. It's a remarkable story. As soon as the newer management of the NOTW became aware of what was in the emails, they were told them that they had to give them immediately to the police. But here is evidence that the private details of the Royal family were sold, by a protection officer, to the News of the World.
So many laws, suborning a police officer, lying to Parliament, court perjury are exposed by this revelation, let alone the security risk to our nominal head of state. I don't like Monarchy, but the idea that News International could break the law to bribe, distort and blackmail with impunity for so long staggers me.
And this has ramifications for his US operations too.