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Six Reasons To Demand An Investigation Into Whether News Corp. Hacked In The U.S.

Reported by Ellen - July 11, 2011 -

As the News Corporation phone hacking scandal mushrooms, it appears that Murdoch’s New York-based Les Hinton has some serious ‘splaining to do. Since 2007, Hinton has been chief executive of Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal. But before that, he was chairman of News Corp.’s UK publishing umbrella, News International. The phone hacking didn’t just happen under Hinton’s watch, there’s new evidence he may have helped cover it up. Hinton told a British parliamentary committee that the paper in question, Britain’s now-defunct News of the World, had conducted a “full, rigorous internal inquiry” and concluded that the hacking had been the work of a rogue reporter. That statement has been proven utterly false, of course, and now there are questions about whether Hinton saw beforehand internal News International reports of more widespread hacking. But the presence in New York of a News Corp. exec who may have tacitly or otherwise approved of such illegal tactics (and then lied about it) is only one reason why Americans should be concerned about similar practices being employed in the United States. There are at least five more.

News Corp.’s Fox News fits perfectly into a business model that includes illegal phone hacking. Although there is no evidence that Fox either paid for or engaged in any hacking, they’ve certainly aided, abetted and approved of similarly smarmy behavior. Instead of royals, celebs and the like, the targets have been political foes: ACORN, NPR and Planned Parenthood, e.g. Fox has enthusiastically aired undercover “sting” videos targeting these organizations and then largely – if not completely – ignored information discrediting the videos and their producers, only to enthusiastically air the next such project.

Furthermore, one of the ACORN videographers, James O’Keefe was actually arrested on the suspicion he was attempting to tamper with the telephones of Senator Mary Landrieu (he later pled guilty to entering federal property under false pretenses). O’Keefe also reportedly schemed to seduce and humiliate CNN reporter Abbie Boudreau. But that didn’t stop Fox News Sunday from naming him “Power Player of the Week” several months later, as O’Keefe came up with another dubious sting video. That one was aimed at NPR, an organization Ailes called “Nazis.”

Meanwhile, O’Keefe and his fellow ACORN videographer have been sued in California and Pennsylvania for illegally recording ACORN workers without their permission – and misrepresenting their actions. None of that bothered Fox News host and attorney Megyn Kelly as she gushed over O’Keefe’s “citizen journalism.”

Second, Fox News chief Roger Ailes has been caught using News Corp. security to spy on his workers at his privately-owned, small-town newspaper. Gawker's John Cook and Hamilton Nolan noted, "It's unclear why News Corporation shareholders were paying for security guards to tail former staffers for Ailes' unrelated vanity projects." However, Cook and Nolan also reported that several former Ailes employees suspected that their emails were being read and that offices had been bugged.

Third, while comparisons between News Corp. and Watergate abound, it’s worth remembering that Ailes actually worked for Tricky Dick. Gawker’s John Cook recently examined Ailes’ Nixon-era blueprint for a partisan, pro-GOP news operation which, Cook wrote, “reads today like a detailed precis for a Fox News prototype.” Cook also found, “Some of the documents hint obliquely at Ailes' involvement in Nixonian black ops, though none of the ones that ballooned into Watergate.”

Fourth, American Judith Regan stated in her wrongful termination lawsuit against News Corporation that she recorded at least one phone conversation on the job, presumably without permission. Regan, a former editor at News Corp.’s HarperCollins, alleged that she has a tape of Ailes encouraging her to conceal her affair with the married Bernard Kerik and lie to federal investigators vetting him for an appointment as Director of Homeland Security. News Corp. quickly settled the case for almost $11 million.

Lastly, when asked whether he could assure Americans that no News Corp. hacking had occurred here, Rupert Murdoch refused to answer.

It’s time to insist that he does.

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