I have a few news items to share regarding MurdochGate. First, the L.A. Times goes into a lot of detail about the back story, who's been arrested, what's coming up, etc. I singled out a few excerpts, because the take is slightly different than all the "Boyoboy, they are so busted!" ones I've seen.
Their reporting on Rebekah Brooks differs slightly from what I've seen elsewhere (see last sentence of this post), in that they say her participation has been "thrown in doubt."
For Murdoch, the challenge Tuesday will be to strike the right note of humility and contrition ...
Talk about mission impossible.
Analysts said it was the media mogul's only hope for salvaging a reputation so badly battered... [...]
"Sackcloth and ashes from now on" is how Brian Cathcart, a journalism professor and member of a campaign demanding full accountability over the scandal, described the attitude Murdoch must adopt to keep public opinion here from further hardening against him.
So if he hangs his head, shuffles his feet, and puts on a good show, he's off the hook. Got it.
Oddly, I read a sentence in my hard copy of the Times from Paul Connew, a former deputy editor of the News of the World and now a public-relations consultant, that was omitted from the online version of the article: "Testifying before a parliamentary committee would have more effect than an ad."
I beg to differ, Paul No-Longer-of-News of the World.
He goes on:
"The more candid he is, the more chance … the damage control could be pretty successful," Connew said.
Murdoch, News Corp.'s chairman, will almost certainly deny any personal knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World. Since the tabloid represented only a minuscule part of his media empire, his denials will seem plausible, analysts say. [...]
Patrick Dunleavy, a political analyst at the London School of Economics, said the quality of the questioning by the committee is likely to vary widely. Some lawmakers may relish an opportunity to vent their spleen against a media kingpin before whose power they once trembled; others may ask strong first questions but flail at follow-up ones.
This is one reason we need our own investigation. Speaking of which...
Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the second-ranking Senate Democrat, has called for congressional hearings and investigations of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire to determine whether it employed illegal practices in the United States. [...]
“We need to follow through with the FBI investigation and also with congressional investigations,” he said. [...]
Sen. Jim DeMint (S.C.), chairman of the Senate Republican Steering Committee, said Sunday that Congress should stay out of the issue.
I wonder how many times Jim DeMint has appeared on ClusterFox.
And just when you think this story isn't sordid and bizarre enough, The Guardian is reporting this:
Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbiz reporter who was the first named journalist to allege Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead, the Guardian has learned.
Hoare, who worked on the Sun and the News of the World with Coulson before being dismissed for drink and drugs problems, is said to have been found dead at his Watford home. [...]
"The death is currently being treated as unexplained, but not thought to be suspicious. Police investigations into this incident are ongoing."
Rupert Murdoch's testimony before Parliament starts at 9:15 a.m. Eastern tomorrow. Keith Olbermann will cover it live on Current TV. Rebekah Brooks will also be testifying.
Mike Hoyt, executive editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, has an op-ed in the L.A. Times that discusses the power of newspapers and questions how they have used and will use that power.
Honest, responsible investigative journalism is imperative to a healthy democracy, and newspapers often provide the most thorough, most effective reporting that has and can change our lives. See: Watergate.
However, that power is all too often abused. See: Murdoch, Rupert.
While good journalists inform us of misuse and abuse of power, bad ones often practice it. With any luck, the News Corp. scandal will encourage the former and rid us of the latter.
In a strange way, Murdoch has done newspapers — those beleaguered products of the past — a large favor. He has reminded us all of their singular power. Even in their weakened form compared with a few years ago, newspapers are simply better than any other part of our vast and rapidly changing media system at the job of digging and finding things out. [...]
All newspapers have power, if they report in any depth at all. Even small weeklies in small communities can have great power within their communities. They should use it.
But for what? One lesson of the great scandal unfolding in Britain is that newspapers can choose to use their power for bread and circuses, like the News of the World, and to accumulate more and more power. That works, at least until it doesn't. Or they can use their power for public service — to explain, to encourage and shape honest debate, and best of all, to expose the abuse of power of any kind, even of other news outlets. In the end, the public will appreciate that, and perhaps repay the kindness with loyalty.
Please read the whole thing here.
News International: the movie trailer. Parody created by Paul and Lisa at Handface.