Before the debt-ceiling and credit rating debacle there was real momentum behind the Murdoch scandal and the need to investigate the Murdochization of our media and politics in the United States. If we are to have an independent, fearless, incorruptible media – and a regulatory and legal system able to stand strong against media monopolies – then we need to regain and sustain that momentum, keeping the spotlight on Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation, and a history of shady dealings.
Despite the fact that News Corp. is a Delaware-registered corporation, the FCC has tried to pretend that Rupert Murdoch is just a problem for the Brits to contend with. But in consolidating his US media holdings Murdoch is famed for cutting corners and using money and power to gain regulatory favors. As early as 1995, The Nation’s Robert Sherrill wrote, “FCC Commissioners do not like to displease Murdoch. They have done a number of extraordinary favors for him in the past.” Over the past decade, as media reform groups battled to prevent FCC and Congressional moves to undermine controls on media consolidation, Murdoch and his lobbyists have been a constant, well-funded presence—pushing to rewrite media ownership rules so that one corporation, and one man, accumulated extraordinary power.
This week, New York Times reporter David Carr picked up on the theme of extraordinary favors, writing of allegations in 2003 against News Corporation subsidiary, News America, by Floorgraphics—a small New Jersey–based company and a competitor. Floorgraphics accused News America CEO Paul Carlucci—now the publisher of the News Corp.-owned New York Post—of threatening to “destroy” it before someone at News America hacked into Floorgraphics’ computer network. An FBI agent who examined the evidence described it as an “excellent paper trail.”
Yet when the agent brought that evidence to the United States attorney in New Jersey “the case died a slow death.” Who was that US attorney? None other than current New Jersey Governor and Fox News darling Chris Christie.
The good news is that New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg and Congressman Rush Holt sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder recommending that the Justice Department once again look into the case. According to the Times, Lautenberg and others have expressed interest in Senate hearings to examine whether “a broad pattern of misconduct by the News Corporation” exists. Free Press, MoveOn, Media Matters, CREDO and Public Campaign have been leading the charge in mobilizing the grassroots to call for such hearings, and more than 180,000 people have now signed on.