Lots of nobodies have been fired with the closing of News of the World, and seven people are facing criminal charges in England. The Rupert Murdoch hacking scandal is even moving up the ranks. Rebekah Brooks has resigned…
LONDON (AP) — Rebekah Brooks, a loyal lieutenant of Rupert Murdoch, resigned Friday as chief executive of his embattled British newspapers, becoming the biggest casualty so far in the phone hacking scandal at a now-defunct Sunday tabloid.
Murdoch had defended Brooks in the face of demands from politicians that she step down, and had previously refused to accept her resignation. He made an abrupt switch, however, as his News Corp. company struggled to contain a U.K. crisis that is threatening his entire global media empire.
The Atlantic compares the American Murdoch property, Fox News, coverage of the scandal to Pravda covering Chernobyl.
Forbes has more on the political sway of the Fox network…
But Judd Legum, who has researched Murdoch as vice president for communications at the liberal Center for American Politics, says Murdoch’s impact on the U.S. political conversation – primarily through Fox News – sets him apart from other media moguls.
“I wouldn’t say it’s as great as it is in Britain. But to have that kind of relationship with all the most influential Republican players is pretty unprecedented,” Legum said, noting that many GOP presidential candidates and potential contenders have been paid Fox contributors, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008; and Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential contender and a former governor of Alaska.
If this episode does not lead us to question the concept of ‘media monopolies’ vs a free press then we will have missed what might be one of our last opportunities to keep our press free.
It’s not just about Fox News. If that network closed tomorrow some weasel would take its place. Allowing one corporation to own too big a part of our information source invites abuse.
And let me say what no one else has yet dared to. Rebekah Brooks has really awesome hair.
UPDATE: Today’s news from Reuters– former employees spill on how Brooks pushed a ruthless, bullying work culture…
Journalists who worked there in that period describe an industrialized operation of dubious information-gathering, reporters under intense pressure attempting to land exclusive stories by whatever means necessary, and a culture of fear, cynicism, gallows humor and fierce internal competition.
“We used to talk to career criminals all the time. They were our sources,” says another former reporter from the paper who also worked for Murdoch’s daily tabloid, the Sun. “It was a macho thing: ‘My contact is scummier than your contact.’ It was a case of: ‘Mine’s a murderer!’ On the plus side, we always had a resident pet nutter around in case anything went wrong.”
Read the article for descriptions of what sounds like extortion of British celebs– this is getting bigger and weirder.
UPDATE TUESDAY: I listened to some of the News of the World hearing on BBC. It reminded me of the Watergate hearings. It’s amazing what smart people can’t remember. ‘Collective amnesia’ was the assessment. It’s amazing too that such humble and decent men were taken in by their evil minions. Arrest those minions now, for causing all this trouble to such a nice family.
UPDATE WEDNESDAY: Robin Givhams at the Daily Beast has a decoding of the subliminal message entwined in Rebekah Brooks’ unrestrained flowing locks at the hearing yesterday. PR experts might have preferred she wrap her signature look in a rubber band and some bobby pins, but defiance was her strategy. Tell it to the judge.