"Why the U.S. Government Needs to Investigate News Corp"
Why This Scandal Matters
For more than a week now, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (the parent company of Fox News, among many other things) has been rocked by an ever-growing and ever more shocking scandal after it was revealed that the Murdoch-owned News of the World hacked into the phones and personal records of murdered children, the sick four month-old child of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, victims of the 7/7 London terror attacks, the families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, celebrities, politicians, members of the royal family, thousands of other Britons, and even perhaps 9/11 victims. In addition, it has been widely reported that the Murdoch-owned papers bribed police in order to aid their other alleged criminal activities.
Yesterday, ThinkProgress launched a petition (you can sign it here) calling for the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission to launch full investigations into News Corp’s potential criminal activities. Here’s why.
WHO: News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, the Times of London, the News of the World (since closed due to the scandal), the Sun, and many, many other media corporations (see chart below).
WHAT: Illegal hacking into the personal records and phones of thousands of people, potentially including Americans.
WHY IT MATTERS: In addition to being appalling in general, News Corp’s alleged actions may have violated a key U.S. law — the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The landmark anti-bribery law, passed in 1977, bans U.S. companies AND their foreign subsidiaries from paying bribes to foreign officials. News Corporation, which is headquartered in the United States, as a corporation as well as its executives as individuals could therefore be liable under the law if bribes are indeed found to have been paid to police in the U.K. (and/or for a variety of other related offenses under the law).
The Obama administration has stepped up enforcement of the law in recent years, levying billions of dollars in fines against several major corporations and even sending corporate executives to jail.
If News Corporation and its employees are also found to have hacked American citizens on American soil, they could also potentially face a variety of other serious charges.
Finally, Les Hinton, who was previously the top executive in charge of News Corp’s scandal-plagued U.K. newspapers, is now head of Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal.
WHO ELSE IS ON BOARD SO FAR: Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have all echoed ThinkProgress’ call for a full investigation. And Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Bruce Braley (D-IA) have joined their Senate colleagues in calling for an investigation as well.
Late this afternoon, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, became the first Republican to call for an investigation, calling the hacking allegations “disgraceful.”
Families of 9/11 victims have also called for an investigation.
FOR MORE: For an excellent backgrounder on the scandal (before it exploded last week), check out this piece from Vanity Fair’s Sarah Ellison. The Guardian is also an excellent resource for minute-by-minute developments in the on-going scandal.
Please take a minute to sign our petition calling for a full investigation to make sure that News Corp is held accountable.
Evening Brief: Important Stories That You May Have Missed
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Opponents of a transgender non-discrimination law in Massachusetts are calling it a “bathroom bill” that will protect “peeping toms” and “sexual predators.
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News You Can Use: Chart of Everything Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp Owns
Here’s a handy reference guide to the vast News Corp empire (click for full-size).