Video ››› ››› CHRISTINE SCHWEN, BRADLEY HERRING & JON SALVIA
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The unfolding News Corp. hacking scandal is not just about a tabloid allegedly engaging in unethical and illegal behavior, but also about how widespread that behavior was apparently allowed to become within the company. Other News Corp. newspapers have been touched by the News of the World hacking scandal, and there are questions as to whether very senior executives in the company -- like James Murdoch -- participated in covering up the company's misdeeds. The DOJ is also reportedly investigating years-old allegations that a News Corp. advertising company hacked into a competitor's computer system.
For close observers of corporate governance, the fact that News Corp. could let a scandal like this one grow so out of control wasn't a surprise at all. In the midst of countless stories about bribery and hacking, several corporate governance experts have said that this scandal was predictable.
Rupert Murdoch's son James announced this morning that following the allegations that Murdoch's News of the World tabloid hacked the voicemails of a slain teen girl, potentially impeding a police investigation and giving the girl's family false hope that she was still alive, this Sunday will be the tabloid's last issue. From the statement:
The News of the World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself.
In 2006, the police focused their investigations on two men. Both went to jail. But the News of the World and News International failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose.
Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.
As a result, the News of the World and News International wrongly maintained that these issues were confined to one reporter. We now have voluntarily given evidence to the police that I believe will prove that this was untrue and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences.
Inside the Company, we set up a Management and Standards Committee that is working on these issues and that has hired Olswang to examine past failings and recommend systems and practices that over time should become standards for the industry. We have committed to publishing Olswang's terms of reference and eventual recommendations in a way that is open and transparent.
So, just as I acknowledge we have made mistakes, I hope you and everyone inside and outside the Company will acknowledge that we are doing our utmost to fix them, atone for them, and make sure they never happen again.
Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper.
This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World.
Shutting down News of the World should not be an excuse to avoid a full scale investigation across all its media outlets. After all, News of the World is not the only paper facing hacking allegations; News Corp.'s The Sun is also alleged to have hacked into the voicemails of a prominent public figure.
And the rumors that News Corp. is moving The Sun to a seven-day operation provides further evidence that News Corp. is just trying to hide from full accountability of the misdeeds throughout their organization.
After all, while James Murdoch's statement touts News Corp.'s efforts to "examine past failings," he failed to mention that the head of News Corp.'s woefully inadequate previous internal investigation, Murdoch crony and then executive chairman of News Corp.'s newspapers in Britain Les Hinton -- who found no evidence of widespread wrongdoing within the company -- remains a Murdoch confident and serves as CEO of the Dow Jones company, which publishes the Wall Street Journal. Additionally when Murdoch was asked in May if he could assure Americans that there won't be any hacking by the New York Post, Murdoch responded that he had "nothing to say." Hardly the words of an organization eager to accept accountability.
Moreover, this just looks like another attempt for Murdoch to shield another crony, Rebekah Brooks from taking accountability for overseeing the paper at the time of the alleged hacking. Brooks was the editor of News of the World at the time of the alleged hacking of the slain girl's voicemail, but is now one of Murdoch's top lieutenants. Murdoch personally defended Brooks yesterday, and then his News International reportedly tried to laughably say that she was not at fault because she was on vacation at the time if the hacking. But Brooks had previously admitted that under her leadership the paper placed a police detective under surveillance, which she'd reportedly apologized for. Now she's claiming that she was completely ignorant of this subsequent violations of privacy on her watch, and Murdoch defended that behavior as good leadership.
It's good that News of the World will no longer be able to violate people's privacy, but Murdoch shouldn't be allowed to use this enormous distraction to hide from true accountability for his organization's actions.
Glenn Beck was quite fond of adding theatrics to his Fox News show to illustrate his outlandish rhetoric. Below are the top five examples of Beck using his Fox News show to play dress-up.
5. Beck Shows His Fox Audience His "Joy Behar" Costume. On November 1, 2010, Beck informed his audience that Fox host Bill O'Reilly bet him $5,000 he wouldn't go on stage at a Halloween event dressed as Joy Behar for Halloween, and so he went to costume shop and asked for a costume for a "snobby, elitist, über-liberal progressive." Beck then showed a video of himself from that event and announced that O'Reilly owed him the money. From the November 1, 2010, edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
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Last Friday, Fox's Eric Bolling teased a segment about the White House hosting the president of Gabon, Ali Bongo, by saying, "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa's kleptocrats. It's not first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse." The tease was accompanied by a graphic of Obama and Bongo with the words "Hoods in the House."
On Tuesday, following a barrage of criticism and three days of repeatedly defending his remarks on Twitter, Bolling apologized, saying, "We got a little fast and loose with the language." As we've pointed out, Bolling's apology was not only brief but dishonest, because many of Bolling's remarks were not part of an off-the-cuff discussion, but apparently scripted and accompanied by equally inflammatory images. As Columbia Journalism Review noted:
This was no off-the-cuff rant. Bringing last Friday's show to air was a team effort. The segment was conceived and scripted, segment teasers were written, chyrons were created, footage was pulled, a photo of Gabon's president was located and a flashy tooth was digitally affixed. In other words, people (journalists, maybe even?) besides Bolling worked to make this segment happen last Friday.
Yet Bolling brushed it off as getting "fast and loose with the language." And, according to Fox Business executive VP Kevin Magee, that's sufficient:
Last night, Sean Hannity devoted a segment of his show to a discussion of how Sesame Street is guilty of liberal indoctrination. Conservative columnist and talk show host Ben Shapiro joked that he would like to "cap" Elmo and decried the show's supposed liberal bias, including its advocacy of letting boys play with dolls and girls play with fire trucks. Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell then jumped in, saying that allowing children to play with different toys "set[s] up a problem" in that it can lead to boys being crowned prom queen later in life. No, really:
So, Sesame Street, by encouraging children to play with different toys, is teaching children to be so open and tolerant of gays and lesbians that they will one day be able to openly enjoy their proms. And that is apparently a "direct assault on this country's moral foundation." However, Blackwell never mentioned the assault on our country's moral foundation from openly gay children who aren't even allowed to go to their proms, or those who are bullied and tormented by their peers.
Fox hosted and supported this rhetoric, and Hannity even announced that they had a "great panel" discussion. Sadly, this kind of rhetoric that attacks the very idea of LGBT people being allowed to live as they are is all too common on Fox.
That's the kind of discussion that Fox News thinks is appropriate, and the kind of rhetoric that companies that advertise on Fox are sponsoring.
For more, keep up with DropFox.
As the Guardian reported, former Vice President Al Gore is fighting back against News Corp. for forcing his television network off the air in Italy. According to Gore, Current TV was told it would be dropped from News Corp.'s Sky Italia because of the network's decision to hire Keith Olbermann.
Gore pushed back against the News Corp. decision, noting that the incident demonstrates how the company lets ideology get in the way of its business decisions:
In an interview with the Guardian, Gore said the Current TV news and documentary channel was told unexpectedly three weeks ago that it could no longer be carried by Sky Italia because of its decision to hire a US left-leaning commentator often critical of Murdoch's company.
He added that the decision reflected how News Corporation operated worldwide. "News Corporation is an international conglomerate with an ideological agenda. It seeks political power in every nation they operate. They wield that power to shut down voices that disagree with the agenda of Rupert Murdoch," Gore said.
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