An oil shale company that counts Rupert Murdoch as both a key investor and member of its “strategic advisory board” is standing by the embattled News Corp. chairman as public outrage grows over allegations that his British tabloids illegally hacked the voicemails of thousands of people and bribed the police.
“Rupert Murdoch is a valued member of Genie Energy's Strategic Advisory Board, and we hope and expect that he will continue in that capacity,” Genie Energy chairman Howard Jonas told Media Matters in an emailed statement today.
Last year, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch joined the “Strategic Advisory Board” of Genie Energy, and purchased an equity stake in Genie Oil and Gas, which consists of Genie Energy's interests in oil shale initiatives on federal land in Western Colorado and in Israel's Elah Valley. Genie Energy -- which is a division of IDT Corporation, a global telecommunications company -- has attracted several other high-profile advisers and investors, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, Lord Jacob Rothschild, and Michael Steinhardt, a prominent hedge fund investor and philanthropist.
Media Matters has previously reported that Murdoch's Fox Business Network repeatedly promoted Genie Energy's controversial oil shale venture in Israel without disclosing that Murdoch is one of the project's most prominent investors.
Earlier today, News Corp. abandoned its multi-billion dollar takeover bid for British television broadcaster BSkyB, citing a “difficult” climate.
Murdoch, along with other News Corp. executives, has been asked to testify before Parliament regarding the phone-hacking allegations and is facing multiple investigations in the U.K.
In the U.S., a group of News Corp. shareholders is suing Murdoch and the News Corp. board for mishandling the hacking scandal, and several lawmakers -- both Democratic and Republican -- are calling for inquires into the scandal.
This afternoon, ProPublica reported that members of the Bancroft family, which long-controlled the Wall Street Journal, “say they would not have agreed to sell the prestigious daily to Rupert Murdoch if they had been aware of News International's conduct in the phone-hacking scandal at the time of the deal.”
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal -- the second-largest shareholder in News Corp. through his Kingdom Holding Company -- said on Monday that he would continue to support Murdoch, telling Bloomberg, “We will sell nothing. We are standing by our friends.”