Did News Corp. Hack Phones of 9/11 Victims?
As the fallout continues to germinate from perhaps the largest scandal in the history of modern media, News. Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA) latest accuser in a string of Federal and Corporate bandwagon jumpers is the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. MSNBC reports that the FBI will begin a private investigation seeking to ascertain whether persons employed by US-based outfits of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, “sought to hack into the phones of Sept. 11 victims,” according to a law enforcement officer. According to the AP, “FBI’s New York office didn’t immediately comment Thursday. There was no immediate response to messages left for News Corp. and the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan.”
If these claims prove to have some substance, it could bring the contaminants of the scandal, which have thus far been largely confined to British publication ‘News of The World,’ to the America’s. Given the emotional gravity of the claims at stake the company’s largest US broadcasting platform, Fox News (NASDAQ:NWSA), could see a toll exacted on much of its viewership. Fox, which is popularly believed to publish news in a conservative leaning bent, is known for its prideful displays of patriotism and its diligence in proper and respectful treatment of armed service members. This reputation would doubtlessly come under fire in light of the possible pending investigation.
In other developments related to the company, Rupert Murdoch and son Jamie today agreed to appear in hearings at the British Parliament that will question the extent of the nepotistic show-runners’ knowledge and involvement with the News of the World’s phone hacking activities. The two had previously declined ‘invitations’ to appear, citing unavailability and questions over citizenship that led sources to doubt whether or not the Brit government could legally force the men to testify. These disputes have since been resolved as it was discovered that J. Murdoch is in fact a citizen of the UK, and the two have since publicly stated that they would attend hearings. Former News of the World editor and Murdoch confidant Rebekah Brooks will also be required to appear before the Parliament.
British officials are ramping up efforts to build a case against the Murdoch’s before the hearings begin next Tuesday. According to the BBC, “Police are contacting about 30 suspected phone-hacking victims a week, the BBC understands, after investigations identified some 4,000 possible targets of the tactic.” Neil Wallis, a former News of the World editor, was also arrested in London this morning for, “suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications.” He is the ninth man to be arrested by Scotland Yard over the scandal.
Murdoch has responded to public outrage over his company’s activities by dropping News Corp.’s (NASDAQ:NWSA) bid to acquire British Sky Broadcasting group. British Business Secretary Vince Cable today likened Murdoch’s fall from power to that of a tyrant, saying, “It is a little bit like the end of a dictatorship when everybody suddenly discovers they were against the dictator.”