Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT
Two weeks after getting fired from Fox News for being a "mole" dishing dirt on Rupert Murdoch's news channel, Joe Muto reported that on Wednesday he received an early morning visit from New York County District Attorney officials who arrived with a warrant and left with his phone, laptop and notebooks. They were responding to News Corp.'s allegations that Muto had committed larceny when he shared his inside-Fox News account, complete with in-house video from the channel's servers, with Gawker in a series of controversial posts.
This week's swift law enforcement response to the relatively minor criminal case stands in stark contrast to when competitors to a News Corp. subsidiary, News America, spent years beseeching law enforcement agencies to fully investigate claims that News America employees had illegally hacked into a competitor's secure website and stolen proprietary information in an effort to steal away clients and "destroy" the company, according to one of its owners.
At the time, federal investigators at the New Jersey U.S. Attorney's office, overseen then by Chris Christie, refused to take the Murdoch-related case seriously and no criminal charges were ever filed. That, despite the fact that years later as part of a civil case, a News Corp. attorney admitted in open court that the company's computers had been used to hack into a competitor's website. (News Corp. insisted it couldn't determine who did the hacking; evidence suggests the company didn't dig very deep to find out.)
In the wake of the "mole" story there's certainly a sharp contrast in terms of how quickly the story about Muto's mid-level mischievousness sparked a criminal investigation, as compared to how the much more serious allegations of corporate corruption within the suites of Murdoch's American empire went mostly untouched for years.