The 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.