Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Britain's News of the World Scandal

This is the big story across the pond.

At Telegraph UK, "Live coverage of the News of the World phone hacking scandal, in which 13-year-old murder victim Milly Dowler allegedly had her voicemails intercepted ..." Also, "News of the World loses adverts over Milly Dowler scandal."

And from Telegraph's Daniel Knowles, "The News of the World has put the independence of the press at risk."

And at Financial Times, "Rupert Murdoch’s responsibility":

The latest allegations in the phone hacking scandal at News Corp’s UK tabloid papers elevate it to a new level. This is no longer just a matter of journalists infringing the privacy of celebrities in order to gossip about them in print. By intercepting the voice messages of a murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler, as the News of the World is alleged to have done, the newspaper has potentially impeded a criminal investigation. If true, this is not only wrong and illegal; it exhibits a fundamental lack of human decency.

We must hope the public disgust that has greeted the allegations may finally persuade the company to get a handle on the hacking scandal. For nearly five years, it has shamefully dragged its feet as interminable investigations have continued into the illegal interception by its UK journalists of mobile phone messages. True, the police have been similarly lackadaisical and puzzlingly reluctant to pursue cases – an attitude that still has properly to be explained. But none of this excuses News Corp. Rupert Murdoch must now get a grip.
And I'm seeing nothing but bikini babes and celebrity hotties at News of the World.

More on this later ...

4:42pm PST: At Los Angeles Times, "Phone hacking scandal involving kidnapped girl roils Britain":
For months, Britain's scandal over scoop-hungry reporters hacking into the cellphones of celebrities and politicians drew shrugs from the general public, which viewed the affair as a rarified dispute between the rich and famous and those who write about them.

Not anymore.

Revulsion swept the nation Tuesday amid allegations that a sensationalist tabloid owned by media baron Rupert Murdoch also intercepted and tampered with voicemails left for a kidnapped 13-year-old girl whose body was later found dumped in the woods.

Britons from Prime Minister David Cameron on down declared their disgust over the accusations, the latest to hit Murdoch's weekly News of the World.

The disturbing turn in a long-running scandal has raised troubling questions about the media magnate's relationship with the British political establishment and police. It comes at a particularly sensitive time for the Australian-born Murdoch, who also operates Fox News in the U.S. and is seeking political approval to expand his already massive media empire in Britain.
This should be manna from heaven for the progressive left, for example, at Media Matters: "Murdoch Tabloid Accused of Hacking Murdered Schoolgirl's Phone."

6:25pm PST: At New York Times, "Milly Dowler Hacking Puts Pressure on Rebekah Brooks of News Corp.":
LONDON — Political pressure is bearing down on Rebekah Brooks, a top executive of the News Corporation in Britain, following allegations that one of the company’s newspapers hacked the cellphone of a 13-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered in 2002, when Ms. Brooks was its editor.

Prominent politicians chastised the company and Ms. Brooks, and Ford Motor Company suspended advertising in News of the World, the tabloid that has faced a long-running scandal over the widespread interception of voice mail messages of celebrities and other public figures.

Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said Tuesday that Ms. Brooks should “consider her conscience and consider her position” after the disclosures.

“It wasn’t a rogue reporter,” Mr. Miliband said. “It wasn’t just one individual. This was a systematic series of things that happened and what I want from executives at News International is people to start taking responsibility for this.” News International is the News Corporation’s British newspaper division, and Ms. Brooks is now its chief executive.

Prime Minister David Cameron took time out from a visit to British troops in Afghanistan to lament what he called a “truly dreadful situation.” The police, he added, “should investigate this without any fear, without any favor, without any worry about where the evidence should lead them.”
And the editors at New York Times weigh in, of couse: "The Greater Evil."