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Hullabaloo


Monday, June 20, 2011

 
Is Rupert in trouble? Real trouble?

by digby

Michael Wolfe, the man who literally wrote the book on Rupert Murdoch on the eavesdropping scandal.From what he says it's a much tighter case than I realized:

In sum: It is now well-documented that employees of Murdoch’s News of the World British tabloid eavesdropped on the voice mail messages of practically anybody who was anybody in Britain for the better part of the last 10 years—the most recent revelations put Kate Middleton and Tony Blair on this list—including, undoubtedly, some of the people who went to the News Corp. party. Although this might not have seemed like much of a crime while it was being committed by myriad News Corp. reporters, and sanctioned by their bosses—just hacks being hacks—it has since transmuted into a profound breach of the civil trust. And to date, each next domino in the inquest has fallen.

The informed speculation in U.K. media and political circles is about which present and former members of the top circle of News Corp. management in London will next be frog marched in front of a tribunal. In addition to company chief Rebekah Wade Brooks (who herself appears to have been hacked by reporters) and her predecessor Les Hinton, who now runs The Wall Street Journal<, this might naturally include Rupert’s son, James, who approved the early settlements in the case—settlements so large they could only reasonably be hush-money payoffs.

And yet the company’s largely American shareholder base remains somehow unaware or in denial about what’s happening. News Corp. faces its greatest peril since it almost went bankrupt in the early ’90s, and yet the share price holds.

This is partly because of the Rupert effect. Shareholders invest in the company as a bet on Murdoch himself. He has been in many a tight squeeze before, and part of his value is that he gets out of them. And it is partly because the U.S. media is disinclined to pursue Murdoch or to spend much time on foreign business news (in the past, The Wall Street Journal was the one paper that might be counted on to cover such stories).

First, they did it. Boy, did they do it. And then they tried to cover it up. Oh, and it turns out they documented it, too. And then there is the hard-core, bedrock, long-oppressed, anti-Murdoch faction in the U.K., suddenly armed with a mighty weapon: a scandal, into its third year, that drips out week after week. There doesn’t seem like any going back to an invulnerable Rupert.



From his lips...

I think there's more to the American news blackout than that, however. American media companies just don't go after each other. When the politicians get angry or their bombastic pundits go after one another, the big boys circle the wagons. It's very clubby and impenetrable. I don't think it's an accident at all that nobody's talking about this in the American media. They are all afraid of breaking the compact.

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