About Those Lost Emails: Not The IRS, The Ones Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Deleted To Cover Up Phone Hacking

In recent weeks Fox News has been feverishly hyping a story about IRS emails that were allegedly lost due to a computer crash. The story has far less substance than Fox heaps on it because it is likely that most of the emails were retrieved via other sources (servers, recipients, etc.) White House Press Secretary Jay Carney outlined the facts noting that 24,000 emails were collected and delivered to investigating committees in Congress. But that wasn’t enough for the lackeys of Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News team.

Rupert Murdoch

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Ever since the story broke, Fox News has mired itself in waist-deep hypocrisy by inferring all sorts of unfounded wrongdoing by Obama administration officials, even though Fox defended the Bush administration that lost over 22 million emails, including those relating to ongoing investigations over the outing of a covert CIA agent, and the improper firing of U.S. Attorneys. [See the Perino hypocrisy and the Issa hypocrisy]

But there is a bigger problem here than mere hypocrisy, which Fox News commits by the hour. The phone hacking scandal that brought down much of Rupert Murdoch’s international newspaper enterprise had an email component as well. Only this one was documented, intentional, and highly illegal. Looking back on the details it makes it impossible to grant any moral authority for Fox News to express the indignation they have regarding the IRS. In February of 2012, the Guardian reported that…

“Rupert Murdoch’s News International took active steps to delete and prepare to delete the publisher’s email archives as phone-hacking allegations and lawsuits against the owner of the now-defunct News of the World mounted in 2009 and developed in 2010.

“According to court documents filed by victims of hacking, the newspaper publisher allegedly produced an email deletion policy in November 2009 whose aim was to “eliminate in a consistent manner” emails “that could be unhelpful in the context of future litigation”.

So how does Fox News report so judgmentally on missing emails when their own company was caught deleting incriminating emails? The same way they reported so judgmentally on NSA spying when their own company was caught spying on hundreds of private citizens, politicians, celebrities, and royals.

Remember this the next time you hear someone on Fox News chastise the Obama administration for the management of emails. Remember that the parent company of Fox News was caught deliberately deleting, and plotting to delete, emails that they regarded as incriminating in order to avoid the rendering of justice. It’s the height of arrogance for them to now whine about a contrived scandal wherein they have far less evidence of wrongdoing than exists against them and their leader, Rupert Murdoch.

Rupert Murdoch Fears That Bribery/Hacking Investigation Could “Kill The Corporation”

Rupert MurdochThe Independent is reporting that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is under investigation as a “corporate suspect” over the charges that the company engaged in unlawful activities including bribery and hacking the phones, email, and computers of hundreds of politicians, celebrities and private citizens, including a missing schoolgirl who later turned up dead. The inquiry could have significant consequences for News Corp around the world including here in the U.S.

“The Independent has learnt the Metropolitan Police has opened an “active investigation” into the corporate liabilities of the UK newspaper group – recently rebranded News UK – which could have serious implications for the ability of its parent company News Corp to operate in the United States.”

That is not merely the opinion of the investigators and/or reporters. News Corp responded to the inquiry with an apocalyptic warning suggesting that thousands of innocents would suffer if the company were held responsible for its criminal behavior.

“A News Corp analysis of the effects of a corporate charge, produced in New York, said the consequences could ‘kill the corporation and 46,000 jobs would be in jeopardy’.

“Lawyers for the media behemoth have pleaded with the Met[tropolitan Police] and the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute the company as it would not be in the ‘public interest’ to put thousands of jobs at risk.”

This attempt to turn employees into human shields notwithstanding, it would be unconscionable for the legal authorities to dismiss crimes because of potential adverse business results asserted by the criminal. That’s kind of like a bank president found guilty of embezzlement asking that his charges be dropped because the bad publicity might hurt the bank.

What’s more, there need not be a single job placed in jeopardy if the corporate offenders were brought to justice, removed from the company, and a properly instituted board of directors (e.g. one not beholden to the Murdoch regime) reformed the management and operations of the enterprise.

News Corp is, and has been, a criminal organization for many years. They are unapologetic about their abuse of the law and the public trust. It is encouraging that the British legal system is pursuing these charges, although in the past they have caved in to pressure from powerful business interests and retreated from doing the right thing. Time will tell if they have the integrity and fortitude to follow through on this matter.

As an addendum, the Independent’s article included an interesting explanation of the U.K.’s legal procedures regarding corporate suspects:

The Crown Prosecution Service can treat a company as a “legal person” who is “capable of being prosecuted”.

Any organisation at the centre of a criminal investigation “should not be treated differently from an individual because of its artificial personality”, according to the CPS.

The latest guidelines state: “A thorough enforcement of the criminal law against corporate offenders, where appropriate, will have a deterrent effect, protect the public and support ethical business practices.

“Prosecuting corporations, where appropriate, will capture the full range of criminality involved and thus lead to increased public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

The U.S. would do well to emulate this, particularly in the wake of the abhorrent Supreme Court decisions defining corporations as persons, but not providing any of the legal accountability to which actual persons are subjected.

Murdochalypse Comes To America: Is Fox News Next To Fall?

MurdochalypseThe scandal that is devouring Rupert Murdoch’s international media empire has thus far resulted in numerous arrests of public officials in Britain and top-level Murdoch executives. It led to the closure of Murdoch’s tabloid, News of the World. It tarnished the reputations of the Murdoch ruling family to the point that the once heir apparent, James Murdoch, was forced to resign from the chairmanship of both News International and the British Sky Broadcasting satellite network.

This cesspool of criminality and debased ethics has grown from what News Corp once tried to dismiss as a “single rogue reporter” to a corporate-wide syndicate of corruption. Nevertheless, News Corp has somehow managed to contain the damage to its European assets. That is quite a feat considering that any reputation for misbehavior on the scale seen here ought to rub off on the rest of the enterprise responsible for it. The main sticking point has been that the scandal had not crossed the Atlantic to America.

Well that shield may have just been pierced. Mark Lewis, a British attorney who has represented several figures in the News Corp hacking affair, including the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, is coming to America with a caseload that includes alleged victims of Murdoch’s Mafia who are citizens of the United States. The Daily Beast reports that…

…Lewis confirmed for the first time that he plans to file three separate lawsuits on behalf of clients who believe their phones were hacked while they were on U.S. soil. At least one of the cases, Lewis adds, involves allegations that the phone of a U.S. citizen was hacked.

If Lewis has American clients who were subjected to the same sort of illegal intrusions that were a core part of News Corp’s British operations, this is a whole new ballgame. Even though the national borders ought not to protect Murdoch from repercussions arising from his sleazy business practices, that protection will become moot if it is proven that the same activities were perpetrated on these shores.

It remains to be seen if Lewis has the goods on Murdoch, but it is hard to believe that disreputable press entities like Fox News and the New York Post would consider themselves above their British cousins, especially when many of the managers at the U.S. branches transferred to their stateside posts from the corrupt News International executive suites. And if Lewis doesn’t have the goods now, he may shortly acquire them as the investigation continues.

Even though this scandal has already ensnared News Corp executives and English police officials and politicians, it may just be beginning to heat up. Stay tuned.

Rupert Murdoch Proposes Legislation To Outlaw Fox News

The chairman and CEO of News Corp, Rupert Murdoch, has been busily Tweeting his support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). His point invariably refers to nefarious characters who are trying to steal his intellectual property. And not one for understatement, Murdoch has labeled his opponents as terrorists.

SOPA was drafted in a manner that would not punish any actual content thieves, but would empower the government to shut down any web site that contained a link to pirated material, even if that link was posted by a visitor to the web site or was picked up by an automated process that scans Internet pages. Consequently the law could result in shutting down sites with user communities like Boing-Boing or search indexes like Google.

Today Murdoch posted a Tweet that suggested his support for even more government regulation that could have an effect on his own businesses:

Rupert Murdoch

There is something profoundly disturbing about Murdoch connecting the phone hacking scandal, for which his company was responsible, with his campaign against SOPA. The News Corp phone hacking victimized thousands of people. It has resulted in 15 arrests (so far). There have been numerous resignations from News Corp, as well as the British government and police department. It is perhaps the worst scandal an international media enterprise has ever perpetrated. To compare that with a power-grabbing effort to legalize Internet censorship is absurd and ignorant.

However, Murdoch’s Tweet could backfire on him. Think about it. Murdoch believes that passing legislation that permits shutting down Internet sites if they link to unauthorized copyrighted material is warranted and appropriate. And also he thinks there is a connection between that position and the phone hacking scandal. Therefore he must believe that it would be appropriate to shut down any enterprise that engaged in phone hacking. So a SOPA-type law addressing phone hacking would permit the government to shut down News Corp, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and other Murdoch entities.

As beneficial to the world’s media landscape as that would be, I cannot endorse it. Murdoch is wrong about SOPA, and he is wrong about over-reaching legislation that grants the government inordinate power over the Internet or the media. He is completely delusional if he thinks there is a connection between SOPA and phone hacking. And the only message he is conveying is that he still doesn’t understand the extremity of the criminal acts for which he and his company are guilty.

Rupert Murdoch Tweets Up A Storm For SOPA

New Twitter user, Rupert Murdoch, has been busily cramming his support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) into 140 characters. His advocacy for SOPA is a thinly disguised scheme to squeeze out more profits for his company at the expense of free speech and a vibrant, innovative Internet environment. His latest use of social media to advance his personal interests began with a Tweet aimed at President Obama:

Murdoch Tweet

Now Murdoch is attacking “Silicon Valley paymasters” as thieves. Whatever happened to the valiant, capitalist, entrepreneurs who represented the high principles of free market patriotism? All that goes away if you challenge Murdoch’s control over any aspect of his perceived empire. And Google has long been an enemy of Murdoch’s. His next Tweet targets Google directly for advertising and lobbying:

Murdoch Tweet

This is an ironic complaint since it is pretty much the News Corp business model. Murdoch’s Fox Nation is almost entirely comprised of “stolen” content. He aggregates news stories from other sources, slaps his logo on them, and sells his advertising. As for lobbying, Since 2003 News Corp has spent about $45 million dollars on lobbying – twice what Google has spent. Murdoch’s frenzy to out spend, and out maneuver, Google must be having an effect on his mental state, because this next Tweet descends into incoherence:

Murdoch Tweet

Well, who isn’t angry at Optus (the second largest telecommunications company in Australia)? Like most telecom entities it is just another giant corporate … oh … Hang on there. Apparently Murdoch meant POTUS (President of the United States). But that doesn’t make any sense because the only people angry with Obama over SOPA are the opponents of the bill. Maybe backing censors and opponents of free speech is another of the frequent miscalculations by Murdoch. He would be well advised to defer to Obama who recently addressed this issue saying:

“We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet.”

But if Murdoch wants to continue supporting SOPA and Tweeting his lame, self-serving thoughts on the matter, the Internet community will welcome his participation in a free and open dialog, even though he wouldn’t return the favor.

New Yorkers Paying $500,000 A Year To Protect Fox News

In another example of the 1% bilking the general public out of money that ought to be used for the public’s benefit, the Daily Beast is reporting that Fox News gets special protection from the New York Police Department courtesy of New York taxpayers.

“[D]own at Rupert’s News Corp. headquarters on Sixth Ave.–which has never been a terrorist or protest target of any significance–the media empire is guarded by a 24-hour-a-day New York Police Department security detail seven days a week, a patrol that one security expert estimated costs the city at least half a million dollars a year. No other news network gets comparable NYPD protection.”

The article goes on to attribute the all-consuming paranoia of Fox CEO Roger Ailes as a possible explanation for the extraordinary security. But the optics of an enterprise owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch billing a cash-strapped metropolis for security they ought to be paying for themselves is an embarrassment and an outrage. At a time when the NYPD is staffed at near record lows, somebody at the department, or in city government, has decided to redeploy officers from serving and protecting the people of New York to babysitting a wealthy corporation that can afford to take care of itself.

Is this really a wise use of scarce law enforcement resources? Does Fox News deserve protection that no other network receives? Is there an unhealthy relationship between Murdoch, the NYPD, and Michael Bloomberg? These are just a few of the questions that need to be asked at the next city council meeting. And while they are at it, somebody ought to ask why Fox News goes berserk over the cost of policing legal protests by Occupy Wall Street while they are draining public funds for no good reason.

Rupert Murdoch Faces Shareholders And Occupiers

MurdochalypseIn a theater on the lot of Fox Studios in Los Angeles, about a hundred investors in News Corp assembled to hear Rupert Murdoch and his lieutenants defend being criminals and thieves. There was a certain beauty in this charade taking place in the guts of a fantasy factory, in the shadow of Hollywood.

Murdoch delivered his well rehearsed monologue about how strong the business is and how bright its future, on the same day that their PR department announced that they were paying $4.8 million dollars to compensate the family of a murdered schoolgirl for having hacked into her phone and misled her parents and the police as to her fate. Today we know that there were perhaps hundreds of others whose privacy was violated, including politicians, celebrities, and royals. And yet Murdoch is comfortable declaring that “I’m very proud of the culture we have at this company.”

Murdoch had the gall to assert that most of the information authorities have now about the phone hacking and other scandals came from News Corp itself. That statement defies belief considering that the company has done nothing to punish any of the wrongdoers associated with the criminal acts. The scandal goes back a decade, all the while being covered up by editors and executives. It was reporting by the Guardian’s Nick Davies that broke the scandal wide open. Since then fifteen News Corp employees have been arrested, top executives have resigned, and one former journalist, Sean Hoare, was found dead in his home. Hoare was the first person to allege that former News of the World editor, Andy Coulson (who later became a press aide to Prime Minister David Cameron), knew about the hacking.

The shareholder’s meeting provided an opportunity for critics to voice their frustration with the company’s management. There were proposals to slash the pay of the Murdochs, to mandate a separation between the chairman and the CEO, both positions currently held by Murdoch. And an unprecedented number of investor groups and advisers publicly advocating that the entire board of directors not be reelected.

British Member of Parliament, Tom Watson, flew in to confront Murdoch and inform shareholders that the worst is yet to come. He revealed that investigations are proceeding on allegations of unlawful surveillance beyond those of phone hacking. But there were Murdoch defenders in the audience as well. One of whom identified himself as a Fox employee and said that in his years of service he has never been asked to do anything unethical. Of course not. As a Fox employee you don’t have to be asked, it’s expected.

By the end of the shareholder’s meeting it was learned that the Murdochs had retained their board seats. And despite Murdoch saying that the vote results would be released in a couple of hours, News Corp. declined to announce the vote tally, saying it would release the figures early next week. Analysts say that if even 20% of votes are cast against the Murdochs, it would be a victory, because that would be nearly half of the 53% of votes unaffiliated with the family. So what are they hiding? Apparently they have reason to want to keep the results out of the news cycle.

Outside the studio, about 200 people gathered to protest the greed, domination, and manipulation of News Corp. Participants included OccupyLA, FreePress, Common Cause, MoveOn, Avaaz, Change to Win, Brave New Films, and more. The media was there in force as well. Representatives from every local TV station showed up, along with the Associated Press, CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera.

This is irrefutable evidence of the Occupy movement’s success. It has grown from a curious rabble ignored by the press, to a powerful voice for the people. It has earned the enmity of dullards who can only resort to childish insults that the protesters are unfocused, unclean, and unpatriotic. But most importantly, it has changed the public debate from one of a phony debt crisis, to one that addresses the real concerns of Americans: jobs, economic disparity, and the destructive influence of corporations on politics and policy. And it’s only been one month.

Occupy Fox News: The Rise Of The Other 99%

For the past month Manhattan has been the epicenter of a new movement that seeks to reinstate the people as the stewards of American politics and to foreclose on the corporations who have been managing Washington as if it were a wholly owned subsidiary. But now the revolution heads west to Los Angeles where News Corp, the parent of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, will be holding their annual shareholders meeting on Friday, October 21.

The meeting promises to be a stimulating affair as Rupert Murdoch and his spawn face expulsion from the board of their own company. A surprising number of institutional shareholders and analysts have already publicly advised their clients to withhold their votes to reelect the Murdoch clan and a handful of their allies. The Guardian is reporting that opposition to “The Family” is presently as high as 25% before the meeting is even gaveled in to order.

Murdoch-NOTWDumping the Murdochs will still be an uphill battle given that they control 39% of the voting shares. Astonishingly, they still have supporters despite the fact that they have presided over unlawful and unethical practices that have materially damaged the company’s revenue and reputation. But even if they survive it will be in a weakened and humiliated state. There is certain to be vocal opposition in the room from big shareholders disgusted by nepotistic cronyism and the lack of independence, as well as rebel voices who may engage in a bit of theatrical protesting.

The real protesting, however, will be going on outside the meeting as the Occupy Los Angeles crowd migrates over from their base in Downtown L.A. to give Fox a taste of what it’s like to be occupied. They will be joined by FreePress, Change to Win, Common Cause LA, Brave New Films, and others. If you’re in L.A., be sure sure to head down to Fox Studios at 10201 W. Pico Blvd., Century City, Los Angeles (Street parking is available on Motor Ave. A map is here). The protest is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 21, 9–11 a.m.

Rupert Murdoch and News Corp are the epitome of what the 99% are protesting: an unaccountable corporation that manipulates the political process while seeking to enrich itself at the expense of the public that it is failing to serve. And as a media enterprise they also contribute to the disinformation and divisiveness that is tearing this country apart.

But remember, there is another 99% in America. That is the 99% of the nation that does not watch Fox News. The highest rated program on Fox (The O’Reilly Factor) pulls in about 1% of the population. That’s about half the audience of the lowest rated broadcast network news program (CBS Evening news). NBC’s Nightly News draws four times the viewers of Fox. Yet Fox deftly uses their platform to exult themselves and shout down everyone else.

After taking the Tea Party under their wing and promoting it incessantly, Fox now regards protesters as ignorant, smelly, and unpatriotic. Their overt hostility to the majority of citizens who want economic and social justice is fraught with lies and riddled with childish insults that cater to the diminished IQ of their viewers. Polls show that, even after Fox’s relentless propaganda, support for the Occupy movement is twice as much as the Tea Party, which is still viewed negatively by most people.

So let Fox have the 1% of America’s most delusional television viewers. The rest of us will make our voices heard the old fashioned way: by organizing, communicating, and exercising our rights. Stand up. Speak out. Occupy. We are the 99% who do not watch Fox News.

Is The Murdoch Mob Coming Under FBI Scrutiny?

MurdochalypseAuthor and Rupert Murdoch biographer, Michael Wolff, is reporting that Murdoch and his crime family may be staring down charges under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act:

“Among the areas that the FBI is said to be looking at in its investigation of News Corp. are charges that one of its subsidiaries, News America Marketing, illegally hacked the computer system of a competitor, Floorgraphics, and then, using the information it had gleaned, tried to extort it into selling out to News Corp.; allegations that relationships the New York Post has maintained with New York City police officers may have involved exchanges of favors and possibly money for information; and accusations that Fox chief Roger Ailes sought to have an executive in the company, the book publisher Judith Regan, lie to investigators about details of her relationship with New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik in order to protect the political interests of Rudy Giuliani, then a presidential prospect.”

Wolff documents the magnitude of the corruption at News Corp that has become so integral to their corporate culture that they don’t even regard what they’re doing as corrupt. Wolff also notes the mechanism by which Murdoch has evaded justice to date:

“…it’s because the fundamental currency of the company has always been reward and punishment. Both the New York Post and Fox News maintain enemy lists. Almost anyone who has directly crossed these organizations, or who has made trouble for their parent company, will have felt the sting here. That sting involves regular taunting and, often, lies.”

No kidding. Fox News, in particular, brazenly lies about their perceived enemies who include pretty much any Democrat. Certainly President Obama has been the frequent target of dishonest attacks. Currently Media Matters is the victim of a sustained campaign that misstates the law in order to challenge their tax-exempt status. And the Fox-led assaults against ACORN, Climate Change, immigrants, and voting rights have all been subject to the fabrication factory run by Murdoch and company.

The RICO statutes may be just the vehicle to rein in these crooks. Here’s hoping that the legal authorities will crack this case and bring the Murdoch Mob to justice.

News Of The World Whistleblower Found Dead

Now we have our first official “News Corpse”: The man who first raised allegations about hacking at the News Of The World, has been found dead. Via The Guardian

“Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned.”

The Guardian reports that “The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing.” The Guardian goes on to report that Hoare…

“…told the [New York Times] that not only did Coulson know of the phone hacking, but that he actively encouraged his staff to intercept the phone calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives.

“In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged that he was personally asked by his then-editor, Coulson, to tap into phones. In an interview with the PM programme he said Coulson’s insistence that he didn’t know about the practice was ‘a lie, it is simply a lie.'”

This is, first and foremost, a tragedy for the Hoare family. But the significance to the ongoing scandal cannot be dismissed. Stay tuned because, as Hoare himself had once said, “There’s more to come. This is not going to go away.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Tone-Deaf Defense Of Murdochalypse

MurdochalypsePerhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, but Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has published a self-serving op-ed that seeks to separate itself from the travails of its corporate parent, News Corp. The Journal argues that anyone who thinks there is any carryover from the UK scandal is overreaching. Never mind that the head of the Journal’s Dow Jones division, Les Hinton, was carried over to the states from his British perch at News International and has already resigned as a result of his association with the disgraced enterprise.

The op-ed takes a decidedly arrogant approach in suggesting that they, for some unexplained reason, are above it all and should not be tarnished. They regard the whole affair as a legal matter that is limited to the UK and that the real problem is the malfeasance of Scotland Yard for not properly investigating the crimes involved. The Journal’s editorial conveniently leaves out any mention that part of the problem with the police investigation is that they were on the receiving end of bribes from News Corp.

The only thing more grating than their arrogance is their victimehood. Apparently the only controversy is that the rest of the media world is ganging up on the long-suffering Wall Streeters and their bosses:

“It is also worth noting the irony of so much moral outrage devoted to a single media company, when British tabloids have been known for decades for buying scoops and digging up dirt on the famous. Fleet Street in general has long had a well-earned global reputation for the blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true.”

It’s not only Fleet Street. The “blind-quote, single-sourced story that may or may not be true,” is the standard operating procedure for Fox News. But why is the Journal so surprised about the moral outrage devoted to News Corp when it, so far, is the only party accused of hacking into people’s phones? And it is the only party, so far, accused of bribing the police for dirt on the famous. By the way, that is very different than the practice of “buying scoops” from private sources that the Journal is attempting to conflate with paying off the police.

The obvious attempt to muddy the discussion continues when the Journal addresses the critical of issue of relationships between politicians and the press:

“The British politicians now bemoaning media influence over politics are also the same statesmen who have long coveted media support. The idea that the BBC and the Guardian newspaper aren’t attempting to influence public affairs, and don’t skew their coverage to do so, can’t stand a day’s scrutiny.”

Here is where the op-ed deliberately tries to steer away from the real problem. Even if we were to concede that the BBC and the Guardian seek to influence public affairs through their coverage, the activities that are being “bemoanded” are those where News Corp seeks influence through intimidation and/or alliance with politicians, not via their reporting (which, of course, they do as well).

Next we see the editorial take another stab at victimhood with an unusual kicker aimed at a favorite bogeyman of News Corp, Julian Assange.

“We also trust that readers can see through the commercial and ideological motives of our competitor-critics. The Schadenfreude is so thick you can’t cut it with a chainsaw. Especially redolent are lectures about journalistic standards from publications that give Julian Assange and WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur.”

First of all, I don’t know of any mainstream news organization that has given WikiLeaks their moral imprimatur. For the most part Assange has been roundly castigated and, so far as Fox News is concerned, he is regarded as a traitor who should face a firing squad. But the Journal is being stunningly hypocritical in that they themselves have adopted the Wikileaks model in an attempt to emulate its success. That is the express mission of the Journal’s Safehouse web site. Unfortunately, there is nothing safe about Safehouse, which does little to protect one’s anonymity. So unless you have some perverse desire to be ratted out, arrested, or sued, stay as far away from this un-Safehouse as possible.

Finally, the Journal launches into a defense of allegations that the U.S. could prosecute News Corp under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But somehow they spin off such a prospect into an attack on their First Amendment rights. The implication is that any prosecution of a media entity for any crime whatsoever violates the Constitution. That’s a rather broad reading. The Journal complains that…

“Applying this standard to British tabloids could turn payments made as part of traditional news-gathering into criminal acts. The Wall Street Journal doesn’t pay sources for information, but the practice is common elsewhere in the press, including in the U.S.”

Is the Journal asserting that payoffs to police officials is an act of “traditional news-gathering?” In most places that’s a violation of law enforcement ethics and it is the reason that the commissioner of Scotland Yard resigned yesterday.

Moreover, the Journal’s closing argument is that the pursuit of criminal activity on the part of the press has, in the past, netted individuals who were not initially suspects. The example given in the editorial is that of Robert Novak who had participated in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The Journal notes that others, including reporters at the New York Times, were swept up in the scandal. So What? That’s wonderful! Is the Journal suggesting that the press should keep its collective mouths shut because they might get drawn in themselves? That would be the duty of an honest, ethical press. Report the news – the truth – regardless of self-interest.

It’s as if the Journal is threatening its rivals to stay out of this mud fight lest they get dirty themselves. Really? That’s their defense?

Murdochalypse: Ruse Of The World

It’s too bad that Rupert Murdoch shut down the News of the World. If there were ever a time that it was needed, it’s now. The NotW’s specialty was sordid, scandalous, misbehavior by important persons and institutions. The fall of the House of Murdoch fits neatly in that mold: A billionaire media baron brought down by flagrant violations of law and morality. Numerous arrests and resignations. Billions of dollars in asset value evaporated. Just imagine how the NotW would have covered this story:

Murdochalypse

Today Murdoch’s British newspapers published his personal apology. It is reprinted below. Be sure to hover your mouse over each line for a translation from Murdochese to English.

We are sorry.

The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It failed when it came to itself.

We are sorry for the serious wrongdoing that occurred. We are deeply sorry for the hurt suffered by the individuals affected.

We regret not acting faster to sort things out. I realise that simply apologising is not enough.

Our business was founded on the idea that a free and open press should be a positive force in society. We need to live up to this.

In the coming days, as we take further concrete steps to resolve these issues and make amends for the damage they have caused, you will hear more from us.

The campaign to rescue Murdoch’s reputation, and that of his company, is in full swing. Yesterday Fox and Friends interviewed a former Nixon flack who tried to paper over the controversy as trivial and commonplace. Today on Fox News Watch, embarrassed by criticism for having avoided the subject completely last week, held a discussion that primarily castigated other media for over-reporting the scandal.

Murdoch himself is shacking up with lawyers and PR consultants this weekend in advance of his inquisition before Parliament next Tuesday. They will likely be advising him on how best to disguise his repugnant nature.

In addition, facets of the British government are edging closer to a hard line on media reform. The Liberal Democratic Party has requested an inquiry by regulators that could result in forcing Murdoch to divest his stake in BSkyB. Ed Miliband, the Labour Party leader, is calling for the News Corp empire to be broken up:

“I think that we’ve got to look at the situation whereby one person can own more than 20% of the newspaper market, the Sky platform and Sky News,” Miliband said. “I think it’s unhealthy because that amount of power in one person’s hands has clearly led to abuses of power within his organisation. If you want to minimise the abuses of power then that kind of concentration of power is frankly quite dangerous.”

Well said. We need more politicians in the U.S. with that sort of courage. It’s reminiscent Howard Dean, who said while campaigning in 2003 that he favored breaking up the big media conglomerates:

“I would say there is too much penetration by single corporations in media markets all over this country.”

And look what the media did to him. Meanwhile it was disclosed that the Conservative Party’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, met with Murdoch, his son James, and Rebekah Brooks, 26 times since he took office in May 2010. That’s once every other week. So at least we have some political consistency here in that conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic are equally devoid of ethics.

[UPDATE] Rebekah Brooks, who just two days ago resigned as CEO of Murdoch’s News International, has been arrested. Who’s next?

Murdochalypse: [Updated] The Fallout Continues: Rebekah Brooks AND Les Hinton Bail

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal somehow managed to snag an exclusive interview with Rupert Murdoch who, coincidentally, owns the newspaper.

Murdoch was typically defensive in a wholly delusional manner. He insisted that News Corp had handled the crisis “extremely well in every way possible,” making just “minor mistakes.” Minor mistakes like lying as to whether there was any crisis at all and conducting an internal investigation that concluded that any wrongdoing was limited to a single rogue reporter. The shuttering of the News of the World, the abandonment of the BSkyB acquisition, and several arrests later, those mistakes don’t appear to be all that minor anymore.

Murdoch also stuck by his corrupt son whom he said reacted “as fast as he could, the moment he could.” That was six years after the scandal broke and after young James had paid off several victims in an attempt to buy their silence.

This morning comes the news that the CEO of Murdoch’s News International, Rebekah Brooks, has resigned after steadfastly refusing to do so with the support of her boss, Rupert, who just days ago said that Brooks was his highest priority. So much for that. Brooks’ resignation statement said in part…

“As Chief Executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place.”

The problem for Brooks is that if she did not know what had taken place before this she is utterly incompetent. And, of course, if she did know, she is guilty of despicable and criminal behavior. It’s interesting that News Corp’s second largest shareholder, Prince al-Waleed bin Talal al Saud, told BBC’s Newsnight that she should resign if her involvement in the phone hacking scandal was “explicit”. Hours later she resigns. And remember, it was Brooks who warned that the next year would bring more trouble:

“We have more visibility perhaps with what we can see coming our way than you guys can. I am tied by the criminal investigation but I think in a year’s time, every single one of you in this room might come up and say ‘OK, well, I see what she saw now.'”

She’s right. In all likelihood there are still more revelations to come. The severity of the reactions to date suggest that all we have seen thus far is the tip of the iceberg. Murdoch, a notorious brawler, would not passively close a profitable, 168 year old newspaper, ditch the biggest business acquisition he has ever attempted, throw his trusted lieutenant under the lorry, and acquiesce to an inquisition by members of Parliament, if there weren’t something dreadful that he was trying to keep clamped down. His announcement that he will convene an “independent committee” to conduct his own inquiry is laughable, especially considering that he was forced to assign an unnamed “distinguished non-employee” to lead the effort. Presumably there no distinguished employees to call upon.

There are now a half dozen American lawmakers calling for various investigations from Congress, the Department of Justice, and/or the FBI (which has reportedly already opened an investigation). There have been at least seven arrests. The possibility of this affair crossing the Atlantic and involving allegations of the hacking 9/11 victims is the subject of much speculation. Fox News and its master, Roger Ailes, are not immune to this calamity. And if it goes there Rupert can kiss his evil empire goodbye.


[Update] Murdochalypse WOW! From CBS News:

Les Hinton, the chief executive of Dow Jones & Co., has resigned, becoming the latest News Corp. executive casualty in the phone-hacking and bribery scandal in Britain.

Hinton served as executive chairman of the British unit that oversaw News Corp.’s U.K. tabloid newspapers at the heart of the scandal for 12 years. A member of the board of The Associated Press, Hinton became head of Dow Jones in December 2007.

Hinton said in a statement that he was “ignorant of what apparently happened” but felt it was proper to resign.

The classic defense of scoundrels: Ignorance and/or victimhood. As the chief executive of Dow Jones, Hinton was responsible for the Wall Street Journal as well. And while he ran Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers for 12 years, he worked for Murdoch for 52 years, beginning the association in Australia at age fifteen. With Hinton leaving, and Murdoch’s honorary daughter Rebekah Brooks gone as well, Murdoch is shedding his closest and most trusted allies. Can Roger Ailes be far behind?

This is looking more and more like some horrific news has still yet to bubble up from the Murdochian Hades. I’m beginning to wonder if there are bodies stashed somewhere.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Stiffs America – Pockets $5 Billion In Tax Refunds

Rupert MurdochMuch of the world is presently learning what a despicable old plutocrat Rupert Murdoch is. The still unfolding scandals in the UK have revealed just how low his ethics can descend.

On top of that his Fox News empire has been bashing Media Matters for weeks, and falsely asserting that the watchdog group is receiving federal funds with which to criticize Fox. In fact Media Matters receives no funds from the government. Fox is alleging that their tax exempt status represents some sort of financial gift. These assertions have no merit whatsoever.

The truth is that News Corp is the beneficiary of far more funding that comes at the expense of American taxpayers. I previously reported that News Corp has been stiffing America for years by using tax dodges and deferrals to underpay their fair share.

Now a new article from David Cay Johnston at Reuters confirms that Fox is a deadbeat. Johnston writes that…

[Note: Reuters has withdrawn the column by Johnston due to an error in analysis. The error involves only the $4.8 billion dollar tax refund. Everything else in his article and this one is still correct]

“Over the past four years Murdoch’s U.S.-based News Corp. has made money on income taxes. Having earned $10.4 billion in profits, News Corp. would have been expected to pay $3.6 billion at the 35 percent corporate tax rate. Instead, it actually collected $4.8 billion in income tax refunds, all or nearly all from the U.S. government.”

[And...]

News Corp. has 152 subsidiaries in tax havens, including 62 in the British Virgin Islands and 33 in the Caymans. Among the hundred largest U.S. companies, only Citigroup and Morgan Stanley have more tax haven subsidiaries than News Corp., a 2009 U.S. Government Accountability Office study found.

To repeat: That’s $4.8 billion in tax refunds (not credits). So while Fox is hyperventilating over Media Matters (whose entire budget is just a few million dollars), News Corp is walking away with nearly $5 billion from American taxpayers. And they are experts at dispersing their assets throughout the world, dispensing costs to countries that collect higher tax revenues, and profits to countries that have little or no taxes. So that money is likely leaving the country never to be seen again.

Defund Fox NewsIt’s time to stop Murdoch from raiding the American treasury. He is the poster fogey for decrepit oligarchs. He is using money that rightfully belongs to the citizens of the United States to finance campaigns against Media Matters; to disseminate propaganda via Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, etc.; to promote right-wing candidates and issues; to bankroll AstroTurf Tea Party groups; and now, to hack into the phones of kidnapped schoolgirls and victims of terrorism on both sides of the Atlantic.

His immoral enterprise has been exposed, and now he must be made to make restitution. To start with he should pay that $5 billion back. Then we can discuss what legal actions, civil and criminal, should be pursued.

Click here to call on Congress to investigate News Corp’s hacking practices and whether they are doing it in the U.S.
Click here to call on the Justice Department to investigate whether Rupert Murdoch is violating the law.

Shoes Are Falling: News Corp Scandal Keeps Getting Worse

Anyone waiting for the next shoe to drop in the News Corp hacking affair would be wise to seek cover. It’s about to hail footwear. No matter how hard Rupert Murdoch and his minions struggle to hold back the sea, they are continuing to get battered by higher and more powerful waves of corruption. And the tsunami is reaching across the Atlantic to American shores.

News Corp Shoes Falling

Here are a few of the late breaking stories that threaten to being down many of News Corp’s highest ranking officers:

Reports now emerging that News Corp reporters hacked the phones of 9/11 victims.

“…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.”

Congress encouraged to investigate News Corp in the U.S.

“The watchdog group Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is calling on Congress to investigate Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for evidence that the company’s sprawling phone hacking scandal reached the United States.”

[Note: Media Matters has a petition calling on Congress to investigate News Corp. That's only fair since Fox News has initiated a campaign against Media Matters.]

More News Corp papers engaged in hacking. Plus more high-profile victims.

“British media said Monday that Brown was one of thousands whose personal details — including his bank account and his son’s medical records — were targeted by people working for News International titles including the Sun and the Sunday Times.”

News Corp shareholders are revolting. Company has lost $7 Billion in market cap.

“A group of News Corp. shareholders have sued the company over a phone-hacking scandal at its now-closed News of the World tabloid in London. The lawsuit accuses News Corp. of large-scale governance failures.”

The scandal is reaching into the executive suites of Rupert Murdoch, who may lose his bid for the BSkyB satellite business. Even worse, he may be liable for prosecution under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Murdoch’s man at Dow Jones (parent of the Wall Street Journal), Les Hinton, has been implicated in a cover up. Even conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron called Hinton out saying…

“There is now a large-scale and well-resourced police investigation. Of course, in 2006 we did have a police investigation, but we can now see that it was plainly inadequate. This in itself requires investigation.”

That 2006 investigation was overseen by Hinton who concluded that only one NotW reporter had done anything wrong. Clearly that was untrue. We now know that more than 4,000 people were victims of the hackers. Either Hinton was utterly incompetent or he was deliberately complicit in the cover up. And while Hinton was running Murdoch’s British papers, Rebekah Brooks was the editor of NotW. Brooks was briefly in charge of conducting the most recent inquiry into the scandal, but she has been removed as more speculation arises as to her involvement.

As an illustration of the depraved nature of these weasels, BBC’s Newsnight hosted actor/comedian Steve Coogan who confronted the former deputy features editor of NotW, Paul McMullan. Coogan told McMullan that he was morally bankrupt after McMullan explicitly defended the unlawful practice of hacking into people’s cell phones:

McMullan: I’ve always said that I try to write articles in a truthful way, and what better source of getting the truth is to listen to someone’s messages?

McMullan could also get the truth by breaking into people’s homes and hiding in their closets. He went on to make the ludicrous claim that freedom of the press would be at risk if he were prohibited from invading the privacy of anyone with a phone. And he mocked Coogan for profiting from his celebrity while complaining about having his phone hacked.

Today Rupert Murdoch withdrew his offer to spin off Sky News as a condition to win approval of his acquisition of BSkyB. That condition was key to the bid going forward due to concerns that he would control too much of the British media. By withdrawing the offer he casts the bid back into the Competition Commission for a review that will likely take six months. Murdoch’s purpose is to delay the decision in hopes that the hacking scandal would fade away. But there is now the risk that the Commission will decline approval for the acquisition. This move shows both how cynical and how desperate Murdoch is.

Stay tuned. This thing is getting worse by the hour. And don’t expect to see much about it on Fox News. Roger Ailes must be running scared himself. I wonder why.

News Warp: Rupert Murdoch’s Crime Drama Plot Thickens

The corruption and criminality threatening to sink Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is growing into a monstrous story throughout the world. One place you won’t hear of it is on Fox News’ own “News Watch.” This may be the most shocking media story in a century and the only half hour on Fox News dedicated to reporting about the media completely ignored the international scandal even as new revelations have emerged. In just the past 48 hours:

  • James Murdoch, Rupert’s heir-apparent, announced that the News of The World would stop its presses forever (although they may just be moving the operation to the offices of Murdoch’s other British tabloid, The Sun).
  • Andy Coulson, the former NotW editor and former press spokesman for conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, was arrested by British police.
  • The scandal escalated from one of phone hacking to one that alleges paying off police to acquire information for stories.
  • Rupert Murdoch flew to London to personally take charge of the damage control.
  • Investigations are underway to determine if company executives unlawfully deleted millions of emails related to the controversy in an attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard’s inquiry.
  • News Corp stock plummeted 7.6%, losing more than $1.5 billion in market value.

None of these factors were deemed significant enough to warrant a mention on News Watch (which last week devoted half the show to blasting Media Matters). Just as his minions are attempting to subvert justice in the UK, the Murdoch gang is plainly trying to hide the evidence of their guilt by silencing their domestic reporters. They have provided only the most perfunctory coverage of the affair on Fox News, and nothing at all on Fox Nation.

This deliberate effort to cover up the scandal affirms my speculation that the worst is yet to come. Murdoch would not have shuttered a 168 year old newspaper overnight – one of the largest circulation papers in the UK – unless there were some dreadful consequences looming. Remember, Murdoch stuck with Glenn Beck for two years as his audience was cratering and advertisers fleeing in droves. He has stuck with the New York Post despite a decade of losses that total more than half a billion dollars. Why would he suddenly turn to mush and jettison a profitable enterprise like NotW without even putting up a fight? There’s trouble-a-brewin, you can rest assured.

News Of The Whirled: What’s Rupert Murdoch Up To Now?

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?

Fox News Accidentally Reports On News Corp Hacking Scandal

Fox News – July 5, 2010, BREAKING NEWS: AN ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN?

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has been battling to suppress reports about a scandal threatening to upend the conservative media empire. Their British tabloid, News of the World (NotW), was caught hacking into the cell phones of politicians, celebrities, royals, and others, in order to find or manufacture salacious stories. But now Murdoch’s own Fox News is reporting this about the illegal campaign waged by its sister company:


Fox News has assiduously avoided the embarrassing story. That would be consistent with their history of ignoring stories that reflect poorly on the company, no matter how relevant to the public interest. Are they now relenting and covering this major corporate scandal? Not on your life. The screen shot above is not actually from a story about the hacking scandal at all. It is from another assault in their current crusade against Media Matters. However, Fox inadvertently snapped a screen shot of the Media Matters web site that featured coverage of the hacking scandal. This is pretty much the only way the story will ever make it onto Fox News.

The headline from Media Matters, “Murdoch Tabloid Accused Of Hacking Murdered Schoolgirl’s Phone,” refers to a particularly despicable incident wherein NotW reporters hacked into the phone of a missing thirteen year old girl who was later discovered to have been murdered. They accessed her voicemail and even deleted messages after the mailbox became full to make room for more messages upon which they could eavesdrop. That action gave false hope to the girl’s family who assumed that she had deleted the messages herself and was therefore still alive. It also potentially destroyed evidence of the crime.

The new hacking allegations concerning the murdered girl have elevated the scandal to new and repulsive heights. In addition, new information is surfacing that reveals similar hacking into the phones of victims of London’s terrorist subway bombing. So while it funny that Fox News inadvertently posts this image that implicates them in a scandal, we must take seriously the threat that dishonest propagandists like Fox pose for our nation.

Rupert Murdoch Falls For Global Warming Hoax

The big environmental news of the day is that News Corp CEO, Rupert Murdoch, has announced a major milestone in his empire’s march to “energy efficiency and environmental sustainability.” In a memo to employees he wrote…

Murdoch: I am proud to announce that News Corporation has reached its first major sustainability milestone: We have become carbon neutral across all of our global operations and we are the first company of our kind to do so.

With this statement Murdoch has revealed himself to be another cog in the worldwide conspiracy to concoct a crisis over claims of Climate Change and the environmental risks associated with it. Never mind that, according to Murdoch, News Corp will save tens of millions of dollars a year as a result of its eco-initiatives, in addition to reducing its output of carbon emissions by fifteen percent. The larger issue is the deception for which Murdoch is responsible and his promotion of Global Warming as a credible theory.

Rupert Murdoch

Fox News has been a stalwart clarion for exposing Global Warming as a hoax. Their indisputable proof generally consists of video of snow storms in New England during February. Sean Hannity has said that such compelling evidence proves that, “The debate’s over. There’s no global warming.” Glenn Beck contends that Climate Change is a conspiracy to enrich General Electric and other environmental profiteers. The network’s Washington managing editor, Bill Sammon, ordered his anchors and reporters to “refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed,” and to “IMMEDIATELY” (his emphasis) point out that the data has been “called into question.” He fails to note that the data was called into question by representatives of ExxonMobil.

With this history of attacking the proponents of Climate Change science, we should expect Fox News to begin its probing new series denouncing Rupert Murdoch as a deceitful purveyor of environmentalist propaganda any day now. He ought to replace Al Gore as the new eco-terrorist of the year. Perhaps they will even examine his relationship to environmentally friendly technology providers in the newsprint and workspace energy fields. There may be a financial incentive for his deceit. If so, I’m sure Fox will get to the bottom of it. Right after they’re done exposing the plot against incandescent light bulbs and the Global Teachers Union Caliphate.

Liba Rubenstein, News Corp’s global energy initiative director, confirmed the company’s commitment to the environment as well as its respect for an independent press saying that…

“Our corporate commitment from an operational and business leadership perspective doesn’t bring with it an editorial mandate.”

In other words, despite the fact that the parent corporation is convinced that Climate Change is a real problem, they will permit Fox News to continue to deceive their audience by falsely asserting that Global Warming is a hoax, even as Fox is required to participate in the reforms sent down from corporate. So we can expect Fox News to continue to bash environmental science, but I wouldn’t expect them to report on this announcement from their boss.

Glenn Beck’s Ratings Sink into Irrelevancy

If there is one thing for which Glenn Beck deserves some measure of credit, it is his ability to promote himself and inflate his influence on the media, and in society, outside of all proportion to reality. The way he is portrayed in the press would give a neutral observer the impression that he is the most beloved public figure in the country with a growing following that dwarfs his contemporaries.

Of course the truth is that Beck is hated as much as he is loved. And in most polls the highest percentage of respondents are those that have no opinion or haven’t even heard of him.

The most recent ratings for his Fox News program bear out these statistics. Even though Beck gets far more attention than his Fox colleagues, his program is not a top performer and it is not growing. In fact, it is the network’s biggest loser.


In the past year Beck has dropped from 2.67 million total viewers to 2.30 million, down 14%. In the key 25-54 year old advertising demographic it’s even worse. He sank from 678,000 to 434,000, a drop of 36%. Keep in mind that the mid-term elections this year ought to have made his program more pertinent and compelling to his audience rather than less, yet he still underperformed last year’s numbers by a huge margin.

Beck’s deteriorating numbers came on the heels of his vaunted “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington, DC. Apparently that did nothing to restore his ranking. And two months later Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert rubbed salt in his wounds by hosting an even bigger rally. It is also notable that in the same time frame both Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow improved their ratings.

During the past year Beck trotted out some unusual news that some cynics may regard as attempts to boost viewership. On one program he announced that he might be going blind. A few weeks later he disclosed that he was being treated for some sort of nerve ailment that resulted in a loss of feeling in his hands and feet (the Stigmata?). He has said nothing about these traumatic incidents since.

The scope of Beck’s ratings failure is not trivial. his decline far exceeds those of his Fox comrades. He routinely places fourth in the Fox lineup behind O’Reilly, Baier, and Hannity. That is pretty low for someone who is being hailed as the network’s star attraction. His ratings are a full 40% below Bill O’Reilly, who doesn’t get nearly as much press as Beck, at least since Beck came aboard. That’s gotta buzz Billo’s beak.

Along with Beck’s dismal ratings picture, he is also a money drain on Fox News. Over 140 American advertisers have pulled their ads from Beck’s show. In the UK Beck has been airing for months with no advertising at all.

You have to wonder why Fox News keeps Beck around when he is neither a source of ratings or revenue. And increasingly he is the network’s greatest source of embarrassment. His ravings are becoming ever more distant from reality (see Glenn Beck Unhinged for copious documentation). The range of his dementia begins with the eminently mockable frightfest he hosted surrounding his assertion that the government is plotting to induce mass starvation via the Food Safety Act. But just when he seems like the rodeo clown he calls himself, he veers into the repulsive bigotry and overt anti-Semitism of his disgraceful and lie-riddled series on George Soros. It would be naive to dismiss him as the joke he often appears to be when he is also capable of incendiary hate speech that has already incited real world violence.

There are only two plausible excuses for keeping someone like Beck on the air:

1) Beck represents the views of the people who employ him and their determination to advance those views supersedes their obligation to produce popular or profitable programming. That would fit the profiles of both Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch. Ailes is unambiguously partisan and has crammed the Fox lineup with staunch conservative activists in the role of reporters and hosts. At least four potential candidates for the GOP nomination for president are currently on the Fox News payroll. Murdoch has demonstrated his preference for ideology over profit by deficit financing many of his notoriously biased news operations for many years. And the disclosure of his million dollar donations (via News Corp) to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Governor’s Association remove all doubt as to his activist intentions.

2) Beck’s bosses are afraid to terminate him due to the rabid idolatry of his fan base. Even though Beck’s audience is relatively small and shrinking, they are an unstable lot and they would make a fierce roar of anguish were Fox to cut Beck loose. Whether that would manifest violently with threats to the network or its principles is unknown, but not implausible. They would certainly create a media maelstrom. The cultish worship of Beck approaches Messianic proportions. He even speculates on air that he is the target of death threats and that evil, clandestine forces are gathering to silence (crucify?) him. Just imagine how he would spin his cancellation as persecution, and all of his disciples would believe it.

If the suits at Fox News had any integrity they would cancel Beck tomorrow. That’s how television networks work. You bring in either money or viewers or you get the axe. It’s not censorship. It’s called a free market, and I thought right-wingers were supposed to support that. News Corp and Fox executives have a fiduciary duty to shareholders to return profit on their investments, but they are shirking that duty for either ideological of cowardly reasons.

Perhaps it is the shareholders who should revolt and demand that action be taken to restore fiscal responsibility. Either Beck goes or the brass that are too incompetent to do what’s right and necessary do. I’m holding my breath starting . . . . . . . . Now.