By Matt Butler
President and CEO, Media Matters for America
July 12, 2011 (San Diego) --The charges against Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper, News of the World, have gotten so bad in recent days that people are being arrested and the entire newspaper was shut down. The Murdoch-owned tabloid, already under fire for allegedly hacking thousands of people's phones, reportedly hacked into the voicemail of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, potentially impeding a police investigation and giving her family false hope by deleting voicemails. Reports have also emerged of News of the World allegedly hacking the phones of families of fallen soldiers and the father of a victim of a July 2005 terrorist bombing.
And why should we care about what's happening over there?
Simple: Murdoch's media empire includes Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post. Murdoch has enormous political and cultural influence over our media. In fact, Murdoch's hand-picked selection to run the Wall Street Journal was longtime loyalist Les Hinton, who oversaw News Corp's British newspapers during the height of News of the World's alleged hacking activity. Hinton twice testified to the UK parliament that he had conducted a rigorous inquiry into the papers he oversaw and claimed hacking was limited to one reporter. That's right: Hinton, who ran the show for Murdoch as phone hacking became standard operating procedure, is now publisher of the one of the largest newspapers in the U.S.
For years, with your help, we've tracked the lies and deceit coming from Fox News. Now it appears that it's not just Fox that's the problem. The pattern of News Corp's misbehavior goes much deeper--and even into illegal behavior. The British government is investigating and now the Australians are also calling for an investigation of Murdoch's papers there.
Americans also need to know whether our privacy was violated by Murdoch reporters searching for a good scoop to sell news. Ask Congress to hold hearings to see just how far this scandal goes -- and whether News Corp's record of breaching the public trust has affected us.
We can't rely on News Corp, with its record of mismanagement, to address the problem. We must take proactive steps to address protect our privacy from News Corp's mismanagement. Murdoch's cover-up is falling apart, with serious consequences for hacking victims and News Corp shareholders alike.
Thank you for your support. Holding the media accountable is a full time job--and we couldn't do it without you.