The hacking scandal that has embroiled Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is one of the most stunning ever recorded. The News of the World is not some backwater rag with a handful of readers. It is one of the largest circulation Sunday papers in the UK. Well, it was. As of next Sunday it no longer exists. And arrests are said to be pending as soon as tomorrow.
The despicable actions of its reporters and executives that brought the paper down include hacking into the cell phones of celebrities, politicians, sports stars, and royals. However, the bottom-feeding scum at NotW went even lower when they hacked into the phone of a kidnapped thirteen year old girl who later turned up dead. And as if that weren’t enough, new reports reveal that they also hacked the families of soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan and victims of the terrorist subway bombing in London.
When news of hacking first broke two years ago, Murdoch appeared on his own Fox Business Network where Stuart Varney, who is notorious for aggressively challenging (i.e. interrupting) liberals, attempted to ask him a question:
Varney: The story that is really buzzing all around the country, and certainly right here in New York, is that the News of the World, a News Corporation newspaper in Britain…
Murdoch: No, I’m not talking about that issue at all today.
Varney: OK. No worries, Mr. Chairman. That’s fine with me.
That’s fine with him? What an intrepid reporter. Murdoch’s response today would be starkly different, I’m sure. In fact, in response to this parade of revulsion, James Murdoch, the heir-apparent to daddy Rupert’s empire, announced that, rather than cleaning house and soldiering on, the NotW would shut down entirely, thus avoiding the sort of scrutiny that would come with a corporate cleansing. This dramatic solution will result in hundreds of staffers being terminated who had nothing to do with the scandal, while the guilty executives continue on in new positions at other divisions.
Rebekah Brooks, who edited the NotW during the period the hacking occurred, is presently the chief executive of its parent company, News International. Les Hinton who ran Murdoch’s British newspapers is now running the Wall Street Journal. Hinton also lead the internal investigation that concluded that there was no widespread wrongdoing at the paper. That’s a conclusion that can only be explained as either incompetence or complicity.
Murdoch hopes that shuttering the paper will allow him to evade further questions about its criminality. There are even reports that by closing up shop he will be permitted to dispose of company records that the law would otherwise require be maintained for investigations. And speculation has already emerged that the paper may actually resurface as the Sunday edition of The Sun, another of Murdoch’s British tabloids (that has its own hacking scandal). So the closing may be a subterfuge that masks the rats scurrying off to another garbage dump.
The NotW was not sacrificed for some moral repentance. This radical reaction has a purpose that is not being disclosed. Nothing Rupert Murdoch does can be taken at face value. He has proven himself to be a ruthless, untrustworthy, and dishonest businessman. That ought to be cause for conjecture as to what sort of chicanery might be taking place at his U.S. enterprises. Who is being hacked here at home? And is the demise of NotW a gimmick to prevent the exposure of even more disturbing revelations?