Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Rupert Murdoch

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MURDOCH XXIV: 64 Lawsuits Already – Will be 'Thousands'

Hackgate: A Pattern of Criminal  Behaviour


Yes, the Murdoch story may be flying under the mainstream media radar, but with three British police investigations ongoing, two Parliamentary committees, a televised public enquiry with full powers of subpoena starting tomorrow, a DOJ enquiry stateside, and other investigations and legal cases in the US, Australia and Italy into Newscorp anti-competitive and/or criminal behaviour, this is not about to go away any time soon.

As an early indication of this, it has just been announced that over sixty separate claims (some filed in multiple names) have been filed in the UK civil claims court against News International: these include dozens of celebrities and prominent politicians, but also the families or partners of murder victims, or casualties of other high profile incidents such as the 7/7 London bombings.

These weren’t people who thrust themselves into the limelight – but people who had already been violated by some awful event, only to have their own privacy violated by illegal means by a company whose only interest was profit and using press exposure to exert political power.

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MURDOCH XXIII: Bernstein on Murdoch and Nixon: Floorgraphics Smoking Gun

Bernstein on the Watergate Analogy and the Culture of Lawlessness


If you think the Watergate analogy is hyperbolical or fanciful, don’t forget it was first made by Carl Bernstein himself in The Daily Beast nearly three months ago

The circumstances of the alleged lawbreaking within News Corp. suggest more than a passing resemblance to Richard Nixon presiding over a criminal conspiracy in which he insulated himself from specific knowledge of numerous individual criminal acts while being himself responsible for and authorizing general policies that routinely resulted in lawbreaking and unconstitutional conduct. Not to mention his role in the cover-up. It will remain for British authorities and, presumably, disgusted and/or legally squeezed News Corp. executives and editors to reveal exactly where the rot came from at News of the World, and whether Rupert Murdoch enabled, approved, or opposed the obvious corruption that infected his underlings.

And here he is, in a Guardian interview today where he makes the same point

The parallels with Watergate… Had to do with the culture itself that made this possible. In the Nixon Whitehouse Nixon was responsible for the sensibility that permeated the place, that had to do with unconstitutional acts with a cynicism about the political process and how it was practised, and a disregard for the law. And it became apparent to me, as I read more and more what was happening here, that really at bottom what this hacking furore is about, it’s about a culture in the newsroom that has nothing to do with real journalism, real reporting (which is very simply put the best obtainable version of the truth) but rather has to do with serving up both the lowest common denominator of information and calling it news, and obtaining it through a methodology which is outrageous, whether you’re talking about hacking or other kinds of invasions of privacy, and that the atmosphere in that newsroom is a product of the culture that Murdoch in the News of the World .

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MURDOCH XI: BREAKING! Newscorp Quizzed by DOJ

This needs must be quick because the unofficial news has just hit the street, but for those of you who think Holder and the Department of Justice aren’t taking the what Gordon Brown has called the ‘criminal media nexus’ seriously, Bloomberg just has this

News Corp. was sent a letter by U.S. prosecutors investigating foreign bribery, requesting information on alleged payments employees made to U.K. police for tips, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The letter is part of an effort by the U.S. Justice Department to determine whether News Corp. violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, according to the person, who declined to be identified because the matter isn’t public. News Corp. fell 1.7 percent on the news.

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MURDOCH XX: How Cameron got Seduced by Newscorp

This week’s testimony by News International’s former lawyers and executives turned into a bit of a damp squib (executives and lawyers boring? How’s that?). But with the start of the Leveson Inquiry, and further arrests by the three police teams now investigatiing phone hacking, computer hacking and corruption of police officials, there’s no danger this schadenfreudefestschrift is going to go away.

So let me take this relative calm to explore British Prime Minister’s  David Cameron’s disastrous decision to employ Andy Coulson, as his main media strategist.

It’s a fascinating tale, that gives a brilliant insight into what Gordon Brown described as the ‘criminal-media nexus‘ which explains the rise of Newscorp as the most powerful global media force.

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MURDOCH XII: James Recalled, Mulcaire sings, Endgame only Weeks Away?

It’s been a week since my last instalment of this riveting saga of dynasty, criminality and corruption at the heart of our government, and though things haven’t been playing out in the same tremendous rush of exposes – the firestorm as David Cameron called it – the phone hacking revelations at News International, and the subsequent coverup, will continue to rumble on, and explode in lightning strikes at unexpected intervals.  

Some key developments worth noting to day though.

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MURDOCH IX: Showdown in Parliament: the Play and Players: RM No responsibility

This is an abbreviated post-festum version of My DKos diary which – because the sessions overran for two hours – I had to abandon before it Rebakah Brooks’ testimony. Much played out as I expected it – as you will see in the diary below.

Because testimony wasn’t under oath, because MPs aren’t trained investigators (like the forthcoming Commissions of Enquiry), and because Rupert, James and Rebekah could hide under the cloak of ‘ongoing investigations, it was always bound to be a damp squib investigatively.

However it was full of drama – and even pie!

An annoying and distracting moment, like most pie fights I’ve seen. Fun in some way – but completely counterproductive. The real drama came from the Wizard of Oz moment.

Whether it was calculated or not (I really doubt it was calculated) the curtain was pulled on the wizard, and what we saw was a rather bumbling, angry, pompous old man used to being powerful, but  when it comes to the question “Do you bear any responsibility” the answer was “Nope.”

But this is important. Merely tearing the veil on the secret unaccountable power of the Murdochs is  a revelation in itself. Murdoch never governed by being loved, by being charming, or by being intellectually respected: he swayed his secret powers by fear: fear of being exposed by him, salaciously, financially, politically, personally.

Now that fear has gone, the emperor has no clothes.

Full diary beyond the flip – I think, in the main, I predicted well. But Moosers, tell me what you think

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MURDOCH VIII: Lulzsec HacK!: Whistleblower's Death: US Dark Arts: Miliband

Final Update: Lulzsec Hack of the Sun

It’s only fitting, since the Guardian were one of the few major papers involved in disseminating the Wikileaks emails and breaking the Phone Hacking scandal, that they should be the first to report a Lulzsec hack of News International:


The LulzSec collective hacked the Sun’s website and redirected it to another hacked page falsely reporting that Rupert Murdoch had been found dead.

LulzSec also claimed to be “sitting on their [the Sun’s] emails” and that they would release the emails on Tuesday. They tweeted what they claimed was Rebekah Brooks’s email address at the Sun, and said they knew her password combination.

Just in (0.30 BST): A retweet from the Editor of the Guardian says all News International sites down now

RT @jamesrbuk: Okay, www.thetimes.co.uk, thetimes.co.uk, www.thesun.co.uk and thesun.co.uk all down for me now #lulzsec

Ouch. That’s gotta hurt. It’s coming at them from all angles now.

Update: Sean Hoare’s Death


I go out to gym for a couple of hours, and what happens? More incredible twists and turns

The whistleblower who connected the Prime Minister’s Press officer to the Hacking Scandal in an NYT investigation has been found dead in his home in Watford (just up the road). Police are saying the death of the former NOTW journalist is ‘not suspicious’, though obviously suspicions will be high. As a friend of mine tweets

Sean Hoare’s death like Pincipal Skinner’s line from the Simpsons “There’s nothing sinister here, groundsman Willie has simply disappeared.”

As the editor of the Guardian has just tweeted, Hoare had already been interviewed under caution as a suspect in the case. Must have been tough on him, since he was also a major contributor to this article on the growing scandal only last week.

A former show-business reporter for The News of the World, Sean Hoare, who was fired in 2005, said that when he worked there, pinging cost the paper nearly $500 on each occasion. He first found out how the practice worked, he said, when he was scrambling to find someone and was told that one of the news desk editors, Greg Miskiw, could help. Mr. Miskiw asked for the person’s cellphone number, and returned later with information showing the person’s precise location in Scotland, Mr. Hoare said. Mr. Miskiw, who faces questioning by police on a separate matter, did not return calls for comment.

My guess is that he was driven to suicide by events, but of course all kinds of speculations are going to take root given the billions of dollars involved, political and business careers: what a horrible mess for him and his family.

Sean Hoare was a key figure in this scandal actually reaching the public and causing the outcry we see now: a brave man. May he Rest in Peace.

FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MURDOCH VII – Brooks Arrested: Met Chief Resignation Bombshell: Cameron Next?

This initially was a lighthearted intermission diary, supposing this would be a quiet Sunday as News International tried to manage the chaos engulfing them. But I was wrong.

UPDATE: Sir Paul Stephenson, the Met Commissioner, Britain’s senior police officer, has resigned because of his connections with the scandal. More news as this comes in. But this is affecting all levels of the British establishment. I hear now that the Serious Fraud Office is making forays into the News International books: this means that the payment to police officers is at a deeper and more complicated than first appeared. In company law, such payments would be “a gross misuse of shareholders money”.

In Sir Paul Stephenson’s resignation statement there’s a concealed timebomb; a comparison between his employee (Wallis a former News of the World deputy editor) now arrested in the Hackergate probe, and the Prime Minister’s chief press officer, David Coulson (a former editor of the same newspaper).

Now let me turn to the reported displeasure of the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary of the relationship with Mr Wallis.

The reasons for not having told them are two fold. Firstly, I repeat my earlier comments of having at the time no reason for considering the contractual relationship to be a matter of concern. Unlike Mr Coulson, Mr Wallis had not resigned from News of the World or, to the best of my knowledge been in any way associated with the original phone hacking investigation.

That’s a barb and a half. As Robert Peston says

Stephenson statement implies that Met’s employment of Wallis was less controversial than David Cameron’s employment of Coulson

UPDATE 2; IS CAMERON NEXT? Stephenson explicitly compared his taking responsibility with Cameron’s lack of taking responsibility – an amazing comparison. The Labour Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, has gone for the kill

It is striking that Sir Paul has taken responsibility and answered questions about the appointment of the Deputy Editor of the News of the World whereas the Prime Minister still refuses to recognise his misjudgement and answer questions on the appointment of the Editor of the News of the World at the time of the initial phone hacking investigation.

People will wonder at why different rules apply for the Prime Minister and the Met, especially when as Sir Paul said himself, unlike Andy Coulson, Neil Wallis had not been forced to resign from the News of the World.

It is also a very serious concern that the Met Commissioner felt unable to tell the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary about this operational issue with Neil Wallis because of the Prime Minister’s relationship with Andy Coulson.

Amazing times. This could go all the way up to the Prime Minister – a close friend of Rebekah Brooks. Even Iain Dale, a famous Conservative Blogger agrees; Could Cameron Be Next

I can’t believe I am even writing this, but it is no longer an impossibility to imagine this scandal bringing down the Prime Minister or even the government. OK, some of you reading this may think that last sentence is a deranged ranting, and you may be right. Indeed, I hope you are. But Sir Paul Stephenson launched a thinly veiled attack on David Cameron in his resignation statement and the Prime Minister is already on the ropes about the propriety of his relationship with Andy Coulson.

Now back to the original diary

*****

To everyone’s surprise, police have just arrested the former Chief Executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks. Significantly she being questioned by detectives working on both Operations Weeting and Elveden: in other words.

They have arrested her on suspicion of both phone hacking (under the Phone Intercept Law) and corruption allegations.



This is key development, and puts James Murdoch next in the frame as per my previous diary – FALL OF THE HOUSE OF MURDOCH VI. Indeed, so dramatic was it that the best go to source for inside information on New International, Murdoch’s biographer Michael Wolff, could only emit the tweet “Jesus” at first. Now he adds this…

In 2008, during a two hour interview I did with Rebekah Brooks, she took seven phone calls from James Murdoch–that’s how often they spoke.

A Guardian Video from just seven days ago shows how close Brooks was to both James and Rupert who (rather than the hacked victims or 200 staff redundancies) said Rebekah was his ‘priority’

More on this story as it comes in.  

FALL OF HOUSE OF MURDOCH VI: Elisabeth actually said "James and Rebekah F*cked the Company"

After Bloody Friday, and the late but inevitable resignation of Rupert Murdoch’s two closest personal lieutenants – Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton – News Corp are trying to run damage limitation: apologies in the British Press, denials of hacking 9/11 victims.

But despite the best attempts of their PR firm Edelman, this will not wash, and there’s already enough known and proven in the public domain to turn our attention to the Newscorp Executive who took over from Hinton as head of Newscorps European arm, and who supervised the payout of millions in hush-money to the victims of phone hacking two years ago: a certain man by the name of James Murdoch.

As Michael Wolff – the Vanity Fair writer and biographer who knows the ins-and-outs of the family court – tweets:

Wolff also corrects the rumours yesterday that Elisabeth Murdoch said “Rebekah fucked the company” at a book party last Sunday. No, she didn’t say precisely that. James’ sister said:

James and Rebekah fucked the Company”

So here’s a little more about the crass libertarian ideology that has driven her brother – and potentially the company – over the cliff.  

FALL OF HOUSE OF MURDOCH VI: Elisabeth actually said "James and Rebekah F*cked the Company"

After Bloody Friday, and the late but inevitable resignation of Rupert Murdoch’s two closest personal lieutenants – Rebekah Brooks and Les Hinton – News Corp are trying to run damage limitation: apologies in the British Press, denials of hacking 9/11 victims.

But despite the best attempts of their PR firm Edelman, this will not wash, and there’s already enough known and proven in the public domain to turn our attention to the Newscorp Executive who took over from Hinton as head of Newscorps European arm, and who supervised the payout of millions in hush-money to the victims of phone hacking two years ago: a certain man by the name of James Murdoch.

As Michael Wolff – the Vanity Fair writer and biographer who knows the ins-and-outs of the family court – tweets:

Wolff also corrects the rumours yesterday that Elisabeth Murdoch said “Rebekah fucked the company” at a book party last Sunday. No, she didn’t say precisely that. James’ sister said:

James and Rebekah fucked the Company”

So here’s a little more about the crass libertarian ideology that has driven her brother – and potentially the company – over the cliff.