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The Fall of the House of Murdoch?
February 11, 2012 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Five senior journalists and editors at the News International tabloid the Sun were arrested on Saturday along with three public officials as Operation Elveden, the British investigation into bribery of police by News International papers, broadened to include corruption of officials in the armed forces and Ministry of Defence as well. The Guardian reports that the new arrests escalate the stakes of the ongoing US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation of News Corporation, which carries potential penalties of millions of dollars of fines and prison sentences for senior executives.

The scandal originated with an investigation of the Sun's now-defunct sister tabloid, the News of the World, hacking into the voicemail accounts of figures at the center of news stories, including senior politicians, victims of crime and the survivors of British soldiers killed in combat, and a subsequent cover-up and whitewashed police inquiry. The Sun and the News of the World were the original acquisitions in Murdoch's 1969 expansion of News Limited outside of Australia.

The New York Times reports that a central element of the investigation of the top echelons of News International will be a 2008 memo to James Murdoch laying out the extent of the phone-hacking, contradicting the the younger Murdoch's previous testimony before Parliament that he had been unaware of the scandal until 2010.
posted by strangely stunted trees (93 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dear Bobbies, good work. FYI, the fish rots from the head first.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:35 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Looking forward to seeing how this develops. The stink didn't stop when the NOTW was shuttered.
posted by arcticseal at 6:38 PM on February 11, 2012


"Today's developments show this is no longer only about phone-hacking. It goes to the very heart of corporate governance of the company led by Rupert Murdoch.

"Experience shows the company were aware of wrong-doing before it was forced into the public domain by police or civil action but there are now more questions that must be answered."


It's English, but I don't think most American's could parse these sentences. :(
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:42 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


What exactly are they accused of doing? I haven't been following this that closely.
posted by empath at 6:43 PM on February 11, 2012


empath - bribing the police and other public officials for stories.
posted by MattWPBS at 6:46 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm American and I parsed that just fine. But then I have taken bashes Rupert Murdoch to a level that is approaching unhealthy.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:46 PM on February 11, 2012


...and let's hope they get these people to inform on the ringleaders!
posted by markkraft at 6:47 PM on February 11, 2012


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
posted by nicebookrack at 6:49 PM on February 11, 2012


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:53 PM on February 11, 2012


bashes = bashing.

I hate Murdoch with a passion. I am glad to see his world falling apart.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:53 PM on February 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


This comment was amazingly prescient.
posted by All Out of Lulz at 7:01 PM on February 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


I still wouldn't assume anything will ocme of this.

Not till they get the bastard back in his coffin with a stake through his heart and garlic in his mouth.
posted by Artw at 7:03 PM on February 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


Glad to see it.

Isn't accepting a bribe as illegal as giving one?
posted by benito.strauss at 7:12 PM on February 11, 2012



Isn't accepting a bribe as illegal as giving one?
posted by benito.strauss at 7:12 PM on February 11 [+] [!]

The bbc article says a cop, a military person, and a ministry of defence person have also been arrested
posted by Bwithh at 7:22 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm just looking forward to the day they arrest the Murdochs, father and son --- maybe they can share a cell for some extra father & son bonding time!
posted by easily confused at 7:25 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure they'd check on them in the morning and find only one big one in the cell.
posted by Artw at 7:29 PM on February 11, 2012 [36 favorites]


Murdoch's twitter feed is suspiciously absent of comment on this.
posted by codacorolla at 7:30 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


America is quite proud of never denying a U.S. extradition request, mostly because such platitudes apparently keep the British from noticing that America extradites 10x as many British per capita, or was that absolute numbers, than the U.K. extradites from the U.S. Anyways, enjoy locking up Murdoch if you want him!
posted by jeffburdges at 7:34 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fines are pointless; a behemoth like News Corporation could pay tens of millions and not blink an eye (though they'd probably use it as a pretense to downsize a bit and lay some folks off).

No, the people responsible or those who were in the know need to be arrested, frog marched to court, and frog marched to prison when they are eventually found guilty. These actions need consequences, serious consequences.
posted by zardoz at 7:43 PM on February 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


America is quite proud of never denying a U.S. extradition request, mostly because such platitudes apparently keep the British from noticing that America extradites 10x as many British per capita, or was that absolute numbers, than the U.K. extradites from the U.S. Anyways, enjoy locking up Murdoch if you want him!

Fox News would be fun that day.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:50 PM on February 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Barring some weird outrage angle, they'd probably just be eerily quiet about it.
posted by Artw at 7:56 PM on February 11, 2012


prison sentences for senior executives

I'll believe it when I see it.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 8:05 PM on February 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


America is quite proud of never denying a U.S. extradition request, mostly because such platitudes apparently keep the British from noticing that America extradites 10x as many British per capita, or was that absolute numbers, than the U.K. extradites from the U.S. Anyways, enjoy locking up Murdoch if you want him!

That's a streak that will break with Murdoch. Can anyone see Holder and the Obama DOJ agreeing extradite the head of FOX to face a British prison? In an election year? The Right Wing Noise Machine would have their teathugicans armed in the streets that afternoon, these are the liberal jackboots we've been warning you about, Civil War is now!
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:15 PM on February 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Barring some weird outrage angle, they'd probably just be eerily quiet about it.

I can't quite predict what they would say...attacking Obama for letting it happen would require attacking the U.K. too when they have happily attacked Obama for giving the wrong gifts to the Queen as if it was the end of the world.

I don't know what they would say, but I guarantee it wouldn't be quiet. :P
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:21 PM on February 11, 2012


Yes, I can see that. Barack Obama has been completely open in his deep disdain of Fox News. He is not beholden to them for votes. At this point, even the Republican party doesn't seem to be beholden to them for votes.
posted by koeselitz at 8:22 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


T.D. Strange: “... teathugicans...”

I'm all for quirky neologisms, but how do you even say that without breaking your tongue?
posted by koeselitz at 8:23 PM on February 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Honestly he would go of his own free will and the question would not come up.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:26 PM on February 11, 2012


I'm not sure what the US has to do with this. At this point it looks like the crimes were committed in the UK. Murdoch is flying to the UK. I say it's time for the Brits to sack up and arrest their own criminals (and let the US watch on whichever channel they like).
posted by cjorgensen at 9:05 PM on February 11, 2012


T.D. Strange: “... teathugicans...”

I'm all for quirky neologisms, but how do you even say that without breaking your tongue?
posted by koeselitz


Its great to know there's word for people who hug teats.
posted by 445supermag at 9:08 PM on February 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


I'm all for quirky neologisms, but how do you even say that without breaking your tongue?

Tea. Thug. Ick. Cans. Teathugicans.
I'm not sure what the US has to do with this. At this point it looks like the crimes were committed in the UK. Murdoch is flying to the UK. I say it's time for the Brits to sack up and arrest their own criminals (and let the US watch on whichever channel they like).
Yeah, Murdoch is a British citizen who built up his empire there, before moving to the U.S (initially starting in Australia). It's hard to imagine he could stay out of Britain forever, without newscorp going down the tubes. I guess he could resign and head back to Australia. Or move to Russia or something, if it gets too hot.
posted by delmoi at 9:18 PM on February 11, 2012


If this happened in the U.S. the DOJ would do some kind of settlement were they have to pay a minor fee and then keep on going. Just like the recent mortgage fraud settlement that basically resulted in a few billion dollar fine for the banks essentially just ignoring the laws, nationwide about record keeping and foreclosing on people.
posted by delmoi at 9:32 PM on February 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Murdoch is a British citizen who built up his empire there, before moving to the U.S
That involved acquiring US citizenship though, didn't it?
posted by Abiezer at 9:32 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, Teathugican sounds like a minor Maya city state.
posted by Abiezer at 9:34 PM on February 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


"Yeah, Murdoch is a British citizen who built up his empire there, before moving to the U.S (initially starting in Australia)."

Rupert Murdoch has never been a British citizen (Australian until 1985; naturalised US since then), so they can't get him that way.

James holds dual British (by birth) and US (naturalised) citizenship (and also held Australian citizenship by birthright until 1985), so there's no great impediment there.
posted by Pinback at 9:35 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure what the US has to do with this. At this point it looks like the crimes were committed in the UK.

It probably has something to do with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Under the law, US corporations cannot be involved in the bribery of foreign officials. Employees of US corporations can face huge fines and stiff jail sentences, even if they did not commit bribery themselves. I believe employees of US corporations can get jail time, simply for failing to stop underlings, contractors etc. from committing bribery. I used to work as a government contractor, and we were given some really scary training about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. As far as I know, the law is really broad, and this net may be broad enough to bring down the entire Murdoch empire.
posted by jonp72 at 9:44 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, Teathugican sounds like a minor Maya city state.

Faded out of historical memory when culture was extinguished when all the liberal artists, musicians, and comedians were used as human sacrifice to the Great God Ah Chuy Kak.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:46 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It probably has something to do with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Under the law, US corporations cannot be involved in the bribery of foreign officials. Employees of US corporations can face huge fines and stiff jail sentences, even if they did not commit bribery themselves.

Can face, sure. But does anyone think they will face these things? Seems highly unlikely, given the kid gloves approach the DOJ has taken with the banks. Why would they treat Murdoch any differently? Seems really unlikely.
posted by delmoi at 10:21 PM on February 11, 2012


I stand by "teahadist" as my descriptive of choice. And even they are against what News Corp did w/ that poor girl. That's what will resonate about this case with the vast majority of USians.
posted by dejah420 at 10:22 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm looking at this and wondering if the investigators are trying to see how far they can go by flipping people from the bottom. It's a common practice in large investigations. You start with flunkies at the bottom of the ladder, bust them, but then go easy on them if they cooperate. Then they rat out whoever is giving orders higher up the chain. Bust those guys, lather, rinse, repeat and see if you can work your way high enough to get the goods on the guys at the top.
posted by azpenguin at 10:23 PM on February 11, 2012


I'm not sure what the US has to do with this.

The Guardian article gives a concise explanation:

"Fox News Corporation's headquarters are on Manhattan's Sixth Avenue, which is why the company is susceptible to the FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act], a law introduced in the 1970s to hold US-based companies accountable for acts of bribery and corruption abroad...

"The SEC takes an interest in cases where false financial information has been provided – in the case of News International, the use of false names in company records and accounts to disguise the recipients of bribes from journalists could fall into that category."

The Wikipedia article on the FCPA describes how "domestic concerns," a category that seems to include News Corp, are covered by the law.
posted by compartment at 10:40 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did The Sun publish any whistleblower stories or leaks about US government abuses?

No? Then I'm sure the DOJ is just taking their time building the case. These kinds of investigations take a lot of time, you know.

And congratulations to the Metropolitan Police Service and other British authorities for these arrests and investigations. I'm hoping you can tie the crimes to the real responsible parties.
posted by formless at 11:25 PM on February 11, 2012


Burn, babies, burn (if for no other reason than all the Fox shows I liked being cancelled)!

Seriously, though, we need to hold our news providers to a higher standard. As the arbiters of our exposure to the world outside ourselves, they need to be reminded that they are obligated to provide us information we need in a moral and ethical fashion. I am, however, forgiving a few fudges like protecting informants.

Murdochania forgot that. Now is the time to roll the nukes.
posted by Samizdata at 11:27 PM on February 11, 2012


And congratulations to the Metropolitan Police Service and other British authorities for these arrests and investigations. I'm hoping you can tie the crimes to the real responsible parties.

Forgive me for being cynical (and I know several of the top leadership have resigned over the past year or so), but isn't the entire Metropolitan Police Service implicated in the bribery scandal? Is there any way the arrests could be some sort of diversion, or a way to relieve pressure on the police service itself?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:39 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm wondering if anyone can provide any more context on this reporting from the BBC article:

The National Union of Journalists has condemned the latest arrests.

General secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: "Journalists are reeling at seeing five more of their colleagues thrown to the wolves in what many sense to be a witch-hunt.

"They are furious at what they see as a monumental betrayal on the part of News International."


Thrown to the wolves by whom?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:44 PM on February 11, 2012


This is from the original NUJ statement:

Michelle Stanistreet said: “The closure of the News of the World was a cynical act of damage limitation. The unprecedented decision to allow the Metropolitan Police to camp out at Wapping, and the sacrificing of journalists by the management's standards committee is an extension of this strategy. The reputation of these journalists – and let’s remember they have not been convicted of anything – will inevitably be damaged.

“Once again Murdoch is trying to pin the blame on individual journalists, hoping that a few scalps will salvage his corporate reputation. It’s clear that by spuriously cleaning up his reputation he and those close to him still believe the BSkyB deal can be resurrected at some point in the future. They’re doing all they can to make that politically possible. If that means shafting people who have simply been doing their jobs, as it was demanded of them on the Sun and other titles, clearly Murdoch has given the green light to do so.”

posted by KokuRyu at 11:46 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's confusing because in the US they'd be complaining about the government going after 'journalists', like they did with Judy Miller when she went to jail to protect Scooter Libby.
posted by delmoi at 11:54 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I answered one of my own questions:

The paper's journalists are said to be furious that the arrests have been triggered by information supplied to the Yard by the Management and Standards Committee (MSC), an independent committee set up by the New York-based News Corporation, the parent company of News International. Following the first set of arrests, a News International source suggested it was intent on "draining the swamp", a comment that provoked fury among the company's journalists.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:58 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


The difficulty is that nothing, not even the arrival in Britain of Rupert Murdoch bearing reassurance, can automatically put the Sun on the survival list now. The procedures that Murdoch and his News Corporation board have sealed in place make such certainties impossible. This is an almost fatalistic process.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:04 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what is more reprehensible - Teathugicans or Backyardigans.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:06 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like "teathuglicans" is much easier to say ...
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:22 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


News Corp US lawyering itself up with big names is interesting to me; clearly shows that they themselves believe that the top management stateside could be culpable.

And congratulations to the Metropolitan Police Service and other British authorities for these arrests and investigations

You do realize that the Met hasn't really covered itself in glory on this, don't you. Operation Elveden, for one, started in 2010; given that this involves potential bribery of their colleagues, they have every incentive to go easy on this. No time to pop the champagne until actual conviction.
posted by the cydonian at 12:32 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


we were given some really scary training about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

Yeah, I remember that being a really big deal in the employee handbook when I worked at various big tech companies. Like, the big three Do Not Do things were (1) don't bring firearms to work, (2) no sexual harassment, and (3) don't bribe people in other countries. Those rules were always worded more harshly than, say, drug use in the workplace.
posted by ryanrs at 1:10 AM on February 12, 2012


Can you imagine if The Sun was shut? That's the biggest paper in England! We're a long way off that, but this story has miles left to run.
posted by Jehan at 1:18 AM on February 12, 2012


Can face, sure. But does anyone think they will face these things? Seems highly unlikely, given the kid gloves approach the DOJ has taken with the banks. Why would they treat Murdoch any differently? Seems really unlikely.

The problem there is if you don't settle quickly, it takes 20 years of appeals before the money gets distributed to the victims, after which many are dead and almost all have lost their homes. A big chunk of the settlement involves refi to keep victims in their homes and help the economy.

think of it this way. On march 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground, creating a giant oil spill, one of the worst ever. After appeal after appeal, on june 25, 2008, the Supreme Court made its final ruling on the case, and then remanded the case for final payout to the lower court.

A settlement is a tradeoff. And while we really, would like to feel our anger assuaged, the lawyers settling the case have to pursue justice for the victims, not for us to feel better about how bad a bunch of capitalists are. Like all tradeoffs, it has its bad and good sides. The good side here is that we will not have to wait 20 years to see that some people get to stay in their homes.

Here, the situation is much different. First, DOJ may do some things but the SEC, an independent agency that the President has no authority to give any orders to, enforces the law. So any sort of "Obama won't go after Fox for political reasons" is meaningless. He's not going to control the swinging of the big club, which will be the SEC's ability to bar persons from being officers or directors of publically-traded corporations and IPOs and other stock offerings. To say that Rupert Murdoch shits bricks nightly about this is an understatement.

As for criminal charges, FCPA is enforced on that score by the DOJ. Unfortunately for Rupert Murdoch, he's been a naturalized citizen of the good 'ol USA since 1985. Doubly unfortunate for him is that the US has stepped up enforcement of the FCPA since 2010 (just learned that tidbit from the Wikipedia page).

But if Rupert Murdoch is shitting bricks, James Murdoch must be shitting something else entirely. This is a guy who was running that show. And what's happening is that company insiders intent on him never running Newscorp are at the helm of the committee that is turning over all this evidence. The long knives are out.

This affair will end when the Murdochs are no longer running Newscorp.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:58 AM on February 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Dear Bobbies, good work. FYI, the fish rots from the head first.

Good work?

This scandal is old. They have known the broad strokes for years. They had bags of evidence sitting in the police station unexamined for years...

The bobbies are part of the problem. It is no small conincidence that the head of Met resigned just as the inquiries started picking up steam.

It goes to the top of the UK government as well. Cameron parties with these people. Tony Blair is the godfather of Murdoch's spawn. The rot is pervasive.
posted by srboisvert at 2:23 AM on February 12, 2012 [17 favorites]


I feel like "teathuglicans" is much easier to say ...

I prefer "teapuglicans," because of their bulging eyes and the way that their tongues are often too big for their mouths. On the other hand, I know some decent pugs who know how to behave in public, so maybe that's rude.

On a more serious note, Fox can't be happy about this, but I wonder how much the political parties in the US will care. I mean, this is likely to be a win for the Democrats, and the Republican leadership, no matter how they have benefited from Murdoch, don't seem to like him much and, I think, resent Fox's attempts to direct the Tea Party, which went from being a reliable Republican vote which had to be driven to the polls occasionally to people with demands. Demands which would be hard to satisfy without inconveniencing the money side of the party.

It's a little like John Brown, who funded a southern RI coalition of farmers to oppose the state joining the United States (he liked the more libertarian atmosphere of the Confederation). This delayed things handily, but, as more and more of the new states signed on to the more centralized government, Brown realized that his business interests were screwed if everyone joined but RI. So he had to fight (and, quite possibly, bribe) his own creation to join a government he did not like. It must have been delicious irony at the time.

Similarly, the Republican leadership may want Murdoch taken down, in hopes of getting a more docile hand on the leash of Fox.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:24 AM on February 12, 2012


Drain a swamp, gain a bottomless shithole.
posted by spitbull at 3:27 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The SEC takes an interest [in destroying evidence] in cases where false financial information has been provided ..."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:06 AM on February 12, 2012


If The Sun closes, me and the whole of Liverpool will be celebrating for weeks.
posted by Summer at 4:19 AM on February 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


If The Sun closes, me and the whole of Liverpool will be celebrating for weeks.

Indeed, then it could be time for an update of this song.
posted by howfar at 4:25 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Given that it was the London Met that was involved in this fucking mess, why isn't one of the many other forces in the country, or indeed internal affairs, looking closely at this as well?
posted by Dysk at 4:31 AM on February 12, 2012


If The Sun closes, me and the whole of Liverpool will be celebrating for weeks.
And the Guardian could limit their reporting on the story to a single headline, as big as the front page that day: GOTCHA.
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:35 AM on February 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


Also, there is no need to discuss the deportation of Rupert Murdoch. He is in the UK. All they have to do is arrest him.
posted by srboisvert at 4:35 AM on February 12, 2012


Given that it was the London Met that was involved in this fucking mess, why isn't one of the many other forces in the country, or indeed internal affairs, looking closely at this as well?

Sadly, 'internal affairs' in its US sense, doesn't really have a good parallel in British policing. Operation Elveden is being overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, as I understand it, but is still being carried out by Met officers.

Personally, given the stink that's been coming out of the Met for a decade (not just in re News International, the cover-ups of deaths caused by police violence have been obvious, for example) I don't think that's an acceptable situation, but there seems no political will to actually demand a top-to-bottom clean out of the Met. But do politicians ever want that particular kind of dirty laundry aired in public?
posted by howfar at 4:51 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why politicians are concerned - it's not their dirty laundry.
posted by Dysk at 4:56 AM on February 12, 2012


I don't understand why politicians are concerned - it's not their dirty laundry.

Cameron and Blair are associates of the major figures in this scandal, such as the Murdochs and Wade. Last year Cameron faced a pretty rough time over his hiring of Coulson despite warnings of his criminality. Shining too bright a light on the London police may eventually feed back to them if it shows just how corrupt the whole establishment is. And who knows what else might be lurking in the dark?
posted by Jehan at 5:19 AM on February 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


The Shadow?
posted by titus-g at 5:22 AM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why politicians are concerned - it's not their dirty laundry.

A few points.

First, in this case specifically, the connections between the Murdoch empire and both major parties are deep, dark and unpleasant. Any real investigation of the Met's relationship with NI will doubtless uncovered numerous incidents where politicians have been involved in looking to one or the other to do something unseemly, if not actually illegal.

Second, the police force are the formal representatives of state power on the street. If you undermine confidence in the police, you undermine confidence in the government, even if it's not their fault.

Third, it probably is their fault to some extent. Major systemic corruption is the responsibility of the government to prevent. No doubt the current government would attempt to place the blame on the last one (which would be largely fair, given that it was under New Labour that whatever it is that is wrong in the Met got so obviously out of control), but mud sticks, and don't forget the Tories position themselves as the party of law and order.

Fourth, the other thing to remember is that this is coming at a time of police cutbacks and the greatest hostility between government and police in decades. The power of bitterness can be immense. A lesson which I hope Mr Murdoch will learn well, and shall bring his grey hairs with sorrow to the grave.
posted by howfar at 5:23 AM on February 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Murdoch has been a major political player in the UK for as long as I've been alive. Everyone is in power because of him or despite him - he touches everything.
posted by Artw at 5:24 AM on February 12, 2012


I wasn't referring to Murdoch, or indeed the whole media kerfuffle, but rather a top-to-bottom clean out of the Met.
posted by Dysk at 5:25 AM on February 12, 2012


My answer refers to both, however. Only the first point addresses the specific issue of the NI scandal.
posted by howfar at 5:27 AM on February 12, 2012


I think there's way more to come. The angle that fascinates me most is that given senior politicians had their voicemail listened to by the hacks and the police knew about it, where were the security services? State security was most definitely under threat - did MI5 and its spooky pals not know (hardly likely, given the long history of close cooperation between journalists and spooks), did they not care, or had they too been corrupted?

I can't see any good answer to this question, and I don't know why it's not being asked.
posted by Devonian at 6:36 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, there is no need to discuss the deportation of Rupert Murdoch. He is in the UK. All they have to do is arrest him.

Actually he is currently in the US. The story mentions him coming to the UK next week to raise morale.

One of the things that blows me away is how this is being handled by the journalist's trade groups. They're playing the victim. Titanic error.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:40 AM on February 12, 2012


GOTCHA

IT WAS THE SUN WHAT DONE IT.
posted by Artw at 7:01 AM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of the things that blows me away is how this is being handled by the journalist's trade groups. They're playing the victim. Titanic error.

They've already been bewrayed once over the shuttering of NOTW. This fingering of the management is a threat that they will not go down quietly. All the players in this—Murdochs, journalists, police, politicians—are at the mercy of each other for they know the dealings between them. I expect that the next few months will see each group play its cards, and the weakest of the lot take the brunt of the punishment.
posted by Jehan at 7:42 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: "One of the things that blows me away is how this is being handled by the journalist's trade groups. They're playing the victim. Titanic error."

Why is that an error? It's the truth. As KokuRyu pointed out above, these arrests were made at the behest of News International. There will be no arrests of executives whatsoever; the journalists, many of whom may not even have been involved (which seems likely; why give up people who could give material information?) are going to bear the brunt of this.

All the talk above about maybe arresting Murdoch or taking down the corporations seems like wilds hopes in the wind now. He is running the show. He has always been running the show. He told the cops to arrest some journalists to toss a few more scapegoats to the few among the newspaper-buying public who still care. This is business as usual.
posted by koeselitz at 9:25 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll just leave a bit of Adam Curtis here. As ever, he pulls up some lovely archive footage.
posted by davemee at 9:31 AM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


My fervent prayer is that someone (maybe some many) has the dynamite to put a Murdoch in jail. You know why I have an inkling of hope?

Over the years, just about every single evil fucking bastard in journalism (count 'em if you can) has worked for NI. The main thing about scumbags who want to screw you over is that they assume everybody else wants to screw them over too. There must be plenty of "insurance policies" hidden away on tape-recorders and hard drives. The longer this rumbles on, the greater the chance that somebody will get squeezed hard enough to cash one in.

I still doubt it would change anything. Change is, I fear, going to be a lot bloodier than that. It'd still be nice to see someone get their comeuppance someday soon.
posted by howfar at 9:50 AM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The problem there is if you don't settle quickly, it takes 20 years of appeals before the money gets distributed to the victims, after which many are dead and almost all have lost their homes. A big chunk of the settlement involves refi to keep victims in their homes and help the economy.
With the bank settlement, it's something like $1800 per person improperly foreclosed on.
A settlement is a tradeoff. And while we really, would like to feel our anger assuaged, the lawyers settling the case have to pursue justice for the victims
I was all set to respond before I saw this was from Ironmouth. IMO that pretty much makes it self-refuting. The question wasn't even about civil torts, but rather violation of criminal law. Stuff like fraudulent robosigning. It didn't take 20 years of appeals to convict the people at Enron. There were certainly lots of legal violations as well. But this wasn't just a question of lawsuits.

Also the idea that an average payout that's probably a lot less then the actual financial damage wrought is somehow "justice" when the individual people involved face no actual punishment whatsoever is absurd. It's like not prosecuting a rapist and instead forcing him to pay $500 to the victim and calling that "justice."
I don't understand why politicians are concerned - it's not their dirty laundry.
In addition to the interconnectedness, in a lot of cases major politicians are actually the victims here. Murdoch papers actually found out that Gordon Brown 's kids had Cystic fibrosis by listening to phone messages, and blackmailed him to do an interview about it, lest they publish the story on their own. He didn't know how they knew, so he agreed to it.
posted by delmoi at 9:58 AM on February 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


That Adam Curtis blog is amazing. Isn't it in the self-refuting territory, though? If all journalists are scumbags, then Curtis is as much a Cretan liar as any of them.

That bit about Murdoch double crossing the guy who finessed his monopoly past the monopolies commission is perfect. It's like a Hollywood movie bad guy double crossing another Hollywood movie bad guy.
posted by bukvich at 10:19 AM on February 12, 2012


bukvich: “That bit about Murdoch double crossing the guy who finessed his monopoly past the monopolies commission is perfect. It's like a Hollywood movie bad guy double crossing another Hollywood movie bad guy.”

It made perfect sense as a power play, though – looking at it coldly. Between the Conservatives and Murdoch, there was a sense of having worked together – you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. But when Murdoch met Blair, he knew instantly that here was a man with enough of a jellified spine to shudder and do his whim or else, simply because of the power he had. With Blair, Murdoch went from working with the ruling party to manipulating the ruling party. And to do that, obviously he had to distance himself from those who saw him as an equal partner in the game.
posted by koeselitz at 10:23 AM on February 12, 2012


All the talk above about maybe arresting Murdoch or taking down the corporations seems like wilds hopes in the wind now. He is running the show. He has always been running the show.

Not necessarily. The New York Times article linked in the last paragraph of the OP reports that the News Corporation Management and Standards Committee investigation, which has been releasing the internal records related to this, is in the hands of other executives who want to take down James Murdoch and consolidate power for themselves.

That may be a certain amount of wishful thinking on the part of the Times, given how little love is lost between them and the Murdochs, but they've actually broken a lot of this story over the past few years.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:26 AM on February 12, 2012


I live in hope, but I'm mindful that these are only arrests, and how many result in actual charges remain to be seen.

...and let's hope they get these people to inform on the ringleaders!

I think there's every chance of this happening, as everyone involved - journalists and police - scramble to dish the dirt on someone else to try and save their own skins. News International is at war with itself. The MSC (Management and Standards Committee) has been given a brief to 'drain the swamp', and is evidently turning over the low-level lowlifes in an attempt to preserve the organisation itself. Journalists on the ground feel betrayed by the MSC, think that their own employers are sacrificing them, and it wouldn't be at all surprising if they dished any dirt that they in turn have on the higher-ups.

Is wonderful, really. The beast is eating itself.

Journalists are reeling at seeing five more of their colleagues thrown to the wolves in what many sense to be a witch-hunt.

Sun journalists complaining about a witch-hunt? The poor lambs.

Given the Sun's love for law and order, you'd think any journalist there would be delighted to see wicked criminals in their midst rooted out and exposed. Shame the honest ones there managed to miss all this criminality day after day, year after year, despite them being, as they tell us, top investigative journalists constantly on the fight to expose wrongdoing. Perhaps they blinked, or something.

It goes to the top of the UK government as well. Cameron parties with these people. Tony Blair is the godfather of Murdoch's spawn. The rot is pervasive.

The evidence from Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) to Leveson was interesting. Claimed that he had photos showing Foreign Secretary William Hague's political advisor in a gay bar (lots of tabloid speculation at the time about the relationship between the two), and that the NotW bought it off him for £20,000. And then put the photos in a drawer, sat on the story, and never published. That's the NotW whose previous editor, Andy Coulson, was now special adviser to David Cameron...William Hague's boss.
posted by reynir at 10:55 AM on February 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


It probably has something to do with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Under the law, US corporations cannot be involved in the bribery of foreign officials. Employees of US corporations can face huge fines and stiff jail sentences, even if they did not commit bribery themselves.

Exactly. it is a crime for any companies that use the US banking system to bribe officials in order to get business. PBS Frontline did an entire report called "Black Money" about how routine business bribery of government officials is, and how the US FCPA can fuck with foreign companies that sill want to do business in the US, even if bribery is in ot illegal in the company's home nation.

The (i believe) CEO of British Aerospace was met at customs by US law enforcement officials investigating the sale of British fighter jets to Saudi Arabia and the associated bribery to get the deal done. He was taken aside, questioned, his files and phone copied as part of the official investigation, and people were shocked.

As someone in the report Frontline report pointed out, what happens to "black money" is it generally gets stolen because it's already off the books.

Bob Baer, former CIA agent and inspiration for the movie Syriana says he was a CIA briber, that's what he was trained to do. But he was small-time, competing with the corporate bribers. Those cats could pay REAL bribe money the CIA could never dream of coming up with.

I hope this goes profoundly bad for Murdoch and his people. Bad lot, they.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:59 AM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The evidence from Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) to Leveson was interesting. Claimed that he had photos showing Foreign Secretary William Hague's political advisor in a gay bar (lots of tabloid speculation at the time about the relationship between the two), and that the NotW bought it off him for £20,000. And then put the photos in a drawer, sat on the story, and never published. That's the NotW whose previous editor, Andy Coulson, was now special adviser to David Cameron...William Hague's boss.

While this is the kind of thing I expect to be true, Staines will say ought.
posted by Jehan at 11:13 AM on February 12, 2012


Yes, true, and I did feel dirty for even paraphrasing his words, but he was very specific, and I believe all evidence to Leveson is under oath. Staines is terrible, but not sure if he is that foolish.
posted by reynir at 11:43 AM on February 12, 2012


On the other hand, what's worrying is how the British government will likely use this scandal to clamp down on press freedoms.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:32 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, true, and I did feel dirty for even paraphrasing his words, but he was very specific, and I believe all evidence to Leveson is under oath. Staines is terrible, but not sure if he is that foolish.

That is true.
posted by Jehan at 12:42 PM on February 12, 2012


And the Guardian could limit their reporting on the story to a single headline, as big as the front page that day: GOTCHA.

Private Eye got there already
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:24 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


... which is of course a parody of this
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:25 PM on February 12, 2012


The Sun, the baby and the bathwater
posted by Artw at 4:32 PM on February 12, 2012


The (i believe) CEO of British Aerospace was met at customs by US law enforcement officials investigating the sale of British fighter jets to Saudi Arabia and the associated bribery to get the deal done. He was taken aside, questioned, his files and phone copied as part of the official investigation, and people were shocked.
My guess is they out-bribed some local official.
posted by delmoi at 4:51 PM on February 12, 2012


I wonder why the US doesn't just use drones to take care of this...?
posted by Chuffy at 6:31 PM on February 12, 2012


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