The fall-out from the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World tabloid has, inevitably, forced Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to withdraw its bid to take over British satellite TV company BSkyB.
As I wrote a few days ago, the left-wing Guardian newspaper and liberal-dominated, state-funded BBC had been pushing the phone hacking story for some time with the ultimate aim of derailing the News Corp bid. For the time being they’ve got their wish, although News Corp could come back in for BSkyB at some point in the future if it’s able to ride out the present storm.
However, things could get worse for the Murdoch empire before they get better, as his foes attempt to open a second front in the US. Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller has called for investigations into whether Americans – and in particular relatives of 9/11 victims – may have been targeted by hackers working for News Corp outlets.
Also attempting to stir things up stateside are left-wing ‘watchdog’ groups such as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which has a long and noble record of investigating corruption by politicians and public officials, so long as they’re Republicans.
Meanwhile, in the UK, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has levelled accusations against two more papers owned by Murdoch’s News International, The Sun and The Sunday Times. However both papers have strongly denied any wrongdoing, and to do so in the current climate, with new revelations emerging daily, suggests they think they’re in the clear.
As I wrote previously, it’s widely believed that UK papers outslde Murdoch’s stable also engaged in phone-hacking; however, only in the case of the News of the World has hard evidence been produced. News Corp’s opponents in politics and the media are now playing a dangerous game, attempting to cause as much damage as possible to the organization while hoping they don’t suffer collateral damage in the process.
We could soon see something similar happening in the US, where thanks to Fox News Murdoch is probably hated even more by the left than is the case in Britain. No-one would be stupid enough to try to defend the actions of the Murdoch journalists who hacked phones or paid others to do it for them, but it’s important to keep in mind the true motivations of those professing outrage: leveraging a genuine scandal in order to change the balance of political and media power on both sides of the Atlantic.