The ethical cesspool at the center of the media colossus Rupert Murdoch created since he arrived on London's Fleet Street is beginning to suck him into its vortex.
Earlier this month, a parliamentary committee released a 121-page report detailing some of the smarmy activities and behaviors the Murdoch culture has spawned. As widely trumpeted in the media, it branded Murdoch "not a fit person" to run an enterprise like his.
Apologists for the Murdoch clan are quick to point out that the "not-a-fit-person" phrase was opposed by four of the nine members of the committee, all members of Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party. While the Conservative members of the committee dissented on the fit-person wordage, they agreed with most of the report.
Cameron is connected to Murdoch's organization in a number of aspects. His former communications director, Andy Coulson, moved directly to Downing Street from one of Murdoch's London newspapers. Coulson has been arrested but not charged. Cameron described his own ties to the Murdoch organization as "too cozy."
Phone hacking, police bribery and who knows what else were unearthed by the inquiry. The committee did not venture into the domain of Scotland Yard and the prosecutors who are still building the criminal cases. As a result, they did not explore the role of more than 40 Murdoch editors, private investigators and reporters, along with police officers who have been arrested so far. That group includes Murdoch darling Rebecca Brooks and 10 others whose connections to the hacking scandal were reportedly referred to prosecutors last month by Scotland Yard.
All of this and the disclosures unfolding before a separate British judicial inquiry raise the question: Why are there no similar queries into the Murdoch oligarchy in the United States? Murdoch and his clan are all U.S. citizens; News Corp. is a U.S. corporation. While his trashy newspapers in the United Kingdom are often seen as the face of his holdings, they're but a tiny segment. In America he has a couple dozen television licenses, so where is the FCC? Combined, these stations, Fox News, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and his entertainment entities dwarf any similar organization.
Where are the congressional investigations? Given the detailed bribery charges in the United Kingdom, where are the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act concerns? If the Securities and Exchange Commission is hot on Walmart's tail (properly) for spreading the wealth among Mexican officials, how about Murdoch's minions enriching Scotland Yard types?
If a parliamentary investigation finds Murdoch "not a fit person" to run a handful of newspapers, what does that say about the television properties our FCC has awarded him? Are the bureaucrats and the political types in Washington afraid of his attack dogs at the New York Post and Fox News?
W.T. "Bill" McKibben is a Buffalo-based author.