Though the near-daily news breaks surrounding the News of the World hacking scandal have slowed in recent weeks, new reports indicate that the media frenzy might just regain its original momentum, and not just for events coming out of England.
Nick Davies, an investigative reporter for The Guardian, arrived in the U.S. yesterday in pursuit of a story. Adweek has the specifics: Davies will split his time between New York City and Los Angeles in hopes of learning whether Murdoch’s reporters and private detectives carried out hacking operations here in the United States. “I think it would not be surprising to discover that Murdoch journalists operating in the United States had been doing some of the same things,” Davies told The Daily Beast (see video above). “I don’t know whether that’s true, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it turned out to be.”
This comes several weeks after allegations that victims of the Sept. 11 terror attacks had been hacked first surfaced. Though no substantial proof has yet materialized to validate this claim, the (Murdoch-owned) Wall Street Journal reports that the Department of Justice has prepared, though not yet issued, subpoenas for the company. Besides investigating whether 9/11 victims were hacked by Murdoch’s people, the DOJ is also looking into whether News Corp. officials violated anti-bribery laws in the U.S.
In light of these allegations, New York Post editor Col Allan and the Post’s legal department circulated a memo last week telling staff members “to preserve and maintain documents.” And by “documents,” the company includes all written material including handwritten notes and social media correspondence related to either phone or personal data retrieved by hacking and to bribes paid to government officials for information.
Meanwhile, over at New York Magazine, Frank Rich looks back at his brief tenure at The New York Post, where he served as a film critic in the 1970s. Rich asserts that the “thuggery” on display in the U.K. scandal is not just limited to the News of the World, but rather illustrates a broader culture of corruption that pervades Murdoch’s entire empire. For Rich, the “tabloid sleaze” and partisanship exhibited by some of Murdoch’s more colorful media holdings serve as diversionary distractions, which are meant to mask the conglomerate’s ceaseless quest for power.
Of course, this all remains speculation for now, as the hacking investigation continues to evolve on both sides of the Atlantic. Yesterday, The Guardian reported on the arrest of Stuart Kuttner, former managing editor of the News of the World; his arrest marks the eighth in the past month. And lastly, Murdoch’s errant pie attacker will serve a six-week jail sentence for the stunt he pulled last month during the parliamentary hearing on the hacking scandal.