UK Phone Scandal:Ravishing Redhead Resigns in London,
Wall Street Journal Chief Falls of Sword in New York
Few Arrests Made as Blame Game Begins
by Dan Ehrlich

Are Hacked-off Hacking Police Targetting Brooks?
The UK phone hacking scandal has crossed the Atlantic with a vengeance causing the Dow Jones-Wall Street Journal Chief Executive Les Hinton to resign.This comes less than a day after News International Chief Executive Rebekah Brooks quit her London post.

Both Hinton and Brooks profess ignorance of the alleged illegal acts, some 9,000 in all, going on during their times at the helm of News International. Hinton was Brooks' predecessor in that role. Media pundits predicted Hinton, a 50 year plus Murdoch employee, would be the fallguy for the scandal partly in an effort to protect Brooks, a favourite of the Murdoch men.

But, more realistically, Hinton sealed his fate in 2007, when he swore to Parliament that phone-hacking at the tabloid News of the World was limited to just one rogue reporter. In the past week numerous allegations have suggested that the illegal activities were far more widespread.

The Dow Jones-Wall Street Journal properties are the frosting on top of the Murdoch corporate cake. It wouldn't sit well with readers and investors to have a honcho in charge who had been tainted by this scandal. Hinton did the honorable thing by falling on his journalistic sword.

As for Brooks, one must wonder if she was gently shown he door by daddy, even though he said she would stay in her job. She will, more than likely, either now or later, be given another high level post in the Murdoch empire. As I previously suggested given her flair for theatrics and schmoozing the high and mighty, 20th Century Fox in Hollywood would be made to order for her. But, Brooks' next assignment will be answering questions from a UK parliamentary select committee probing the scandal.
Will Brit Hinton Retire or Wait for his Master's Voice Once Again?
Hinton, who is British and 67, may simply retire or wait until the heat dies down and smoke clears so his master can offer another high level job to this very loyal and talented executive.

Another curious aspect to the ever-widening scandal is why so far only three arrests have been made. It is because the enormity and gravity of this growing fiasco, where around 9,000 illegal acts have allegedly been perpetrated by News International staff, that the cops haven’t been able to get their act together, investigating and informing less than 200 of the hackees.

Or is it because the police themselves are so entwined in some of these criminal acts they’re embarrassed to make more aggressive moves until they cover their own rears? One of the newer revelations is that the police officers assigned to investigate the hacking found that their own phones were being hacked. And, could Brooks be the next person arrested?

Aside from the police investigation, Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed a senior judge to carry out a separate government probe of the scandal. But, it may stop short of studying the political establishment's fawning relationship with the press. And, a parliamentary committee will be conducting hearings at which time it will grill the man himself Rupert Murdoch, his son News Int.Chairman James Murdoch and  Brooks.

Meanwhile, the ageing warrior and one of the last great old school tycoons Murdoch, 80, is probably realizing he’s not the man he once was to allow his subordinates, in whom he placed such enormous trust, to transform the golden goose he raised into a southern fried chicken. This has forced him abandoned, for now that is, his bid for all of the BSkyB satellite TV operation.

Here’s a guy who should be enjoying his golden years in retirement and he now has to contemplate explaining to the UK Government the seemingly limitless outrageous behavior of his newspapers.
This isn't According to the Script
This wasn’t how the script was supposed to play. With the current Tory government in his pocket his bid for all of the BSkyB satellite operation was a done deal. Now, that’s in the toilet. And this scandal hasn’t yet peaked.

With the News of the World now part of journalism history, we are now in the blame game. Unlike some libel actions, these are criminal acts, a growing number of which have outraged the public and politicians. Any number of eventual suspects could face jail time.

All this doesn’t really matter to we mortals. What we care about is the arrogance of a private firm’s power to
freely break the law under the guise of good journalism and invade the privacy of almost countless people. And, while this illegal activity had been going on, the firm had been planning to acquire Europe’s largest satellite TV operation in a business as usual routine.

Good journalism is reporting the news of the day. It’s providing a public service by acting as a safety valve on government in the defense of democracy. In this regard, it often has the duty to route out corruption and incompetence in public and some private institutions.

What isn’t journalism at all, good or bad, is acting like a schoolyard bully or worse a blackmailer and/or extortionist, attempting through mobster style tactics of fear and coercion to get either information or the favors from victims. This is at the heart of the scandal enveloping News International.

During the coming weeks two defenses are likely to come from News International parties of interest in the police and parliamentary investigations. First there’s the Brooks defense: Innocence---I knew nothing, I saw nothing. Second, there’s the public interest defense---We broke the law because finding out who celebs were sleeping with was in the public interest.
There's No Defense for These Actions
In the end, neither of these defenses is likely to hold much water. Rebekha Brooks was editor of the News of the World during the height of this activity and if she didn’t know what was going on she wasn’t much of an editor.

The public interest defense is based on such an interest being more compelling than obeying the law, which means that such journalists are above the law when pursuing the public interest in accessing Gordon Brown’s bank account or Hugh Grant’s love life.

Murdoch knows how serious this is. His power base in the UK has been ruptured. All three main political parties are sending him to Coventry. And Prime Minister David Cameron, a good friend and neighbor of Brooks, sees his own position under threat. He is now distancing himself from his NI "mates."

It’s so serious there are rumors Murdoch may sell off all his London papers. He denies this. But that still may not save any future BSkyB deal. And in that case, the only reason to sell the papers would be to rid himself of a growing headache. On the other hand, he's an old  newspaper man and having the influential and historic Times in his stable along with the top selling tabloid Sun has an inbuilt sense of satisfaction and power.

Still, that headache will manifest itself in endless criminal complaints and civil lawsuits from the hacked and aggrieved. Yet, this could be only first stage of a bigger migraine since this plague has now crossed the Atlantic. If the FBI finds that the his New York Post or the News of the World had hacked into phones of 9/11 victims families, his problems could multiply and his empire could take a major hit.

There could be a touch of irony here if the movie that's a cinch to be made of this winds up being distributed by 20th Century Fox.

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