News Corp Hack Shows International Dirty Journalism Allowed by United States
Journalism is something that is meant to inform and snoop out the bad players in the world. Whether it be through corporate scandals, government cover-ups or dirty secrets, journalists are supposed to be the good guys and protect the innocent with their power.
When do journalists become the bad players though? When has the line been crossed? According to the United States Department of Justice, that line still hasn’t been found.
The Situation At Hand
According to a SEC filing, News Corp outlined to their understanding of the situation.
On January 28, 2015, News Corporation (the “Company”) was notified by the United States Department of Justice that it has completed its investigation of voicemail interception and payments to public officials in London and is declining to prosecute the Company or Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.
News of the World journalists had wire-tapped the voicemail of a murdered girl named to try to find information – a clear invasion of privacy against the living and the deceased. Four journalists themselves. According to reports by CNBC, four journalists of the News Corp print publication “Sun” are currently awaiting a retrial in the U.K. for bribing public officials.
After both scandals, News Corp split into two different operations, with 21st Century Fox handling their broadcast news and News Corp maintaining branding on their print news.
11 News Corp journalists in total have been tried for this kind of behavior. Though some have been found innocent, it’s baffling that there have been this many allegations at one corporation.
In a statement, a general counsel for News Corp said the following:
We are grateful that this matter has been concluded and acknowledge the fairness and professionalism of the Department of Justice throughout this investigation.
The Department of Justice released this statement as well:
Based upon the information known to the Justice Department at this time, it has closed its investigation into News Corp regarding possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act concerning bribes allegedly paid for news leads. If additional information or evidence should be made available in the future, the Department reserves the right to reopen the inquiry.
News Corp Stance on Dirty Journalism is Wrong
Upon finding out about the hackings, Murdoch shut down News of the World, but there clearly needs to be a better training regimen in the future. If 11 journalists have been suspected of immoral misconduct such as this, there’s an issue in the type of training they received.
News Corp should be using their power as a mouthpiece to look this issue in the face and declare a clear initiative to cease this behavior. News Corp in a position to come down hard on their employees who may be thinking about using these tactics, but they don’t seem to be trying. Instead, News Corp is following the basic steps they need to follow to make sure this issue goes away.
Furthermore, what does it say about the United States Department of Justice that they allow this sort of behavior without even a fine, at minimum? These journalists were employed by an American company, and although News Corp didn’t give them a direct order to hack phones or bribe officials, the journalists should be considered their responsibility.
News Corp has contributed more than $13 million in political donations since 2012, so it’s hard to expect any completely fair judgment.
News Corp is best known for owning Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
Photograph from Wikimedia Commons and Shutterstock.