In a scathing New York Magazine piece, Frank Rich lays bare the corruption that pervades Rupert Murdoch's media empire.
Rich writes that Americans need to recognize that what happened at News of the World was not isolated to the U.K. but is part of a venal corporate culture that has infected the U.S., too.
According to Rich, Murdoch's corruption is now ready to be exposed by any U.S. journalist who takes the time to look:
"The bigger story is this: An otherwise archetypal media colossus, with apolitical TV shows (American Idol), movies (Avatar), and cable channels (FX) like any other, is controlled by a family (and its tight coterie of made men and women, exemplified by the recently departed Rebekah Brooks) that countenances the intimidation and silencing of politicians, regulators, competitors, journalists, and even ordinary citizens to maximize its profits and power and to punish perceived corporate, political, and personal enemies. And, as we now know conclusively, some of this behavior has broken the law.
"This ethos would never be tolerated for long at most public companies, but News Corp. is a faux-public company thanks to the Murdochs’ special tier of controlling shares. What’s being illuminated daily by the News of the World revelations in London are the broad parameters, still sketchily filled in, of News Corp.’s definition of business-as-usual: the compulsive lying (James Murdoch’s testimony before Parliament is of a piece with that interview Rupert gave to the Times in 1976); the wholesale buying of police and politicians; the thuggery employed to invade the privacy of cheesy celebrities and the 13-year-old murder victim Milly Dowler alike to pump newspaper sales; and the dizzying array of cover-ups, from the sham News Corp. 'investigations' and 'independent committees' to the hush money that rains down on victims, discarded employees, and cops."
Rich believes the scandal isn't going away soon. "What happened in England hasn’t stayed in England," he writes. "Most, if not all, of these British horrors have precise counterparts in Murdoch’s American history. What we don’t know yet, because few have looked, is which pieces of the corruption may have crossed the line into illegality."
The comment about few looking is noteworthy. Are any news organizations bothering to launch a more comprehensive investigation of questionable Murdoch dealings in the US?
While David Carr has done a service with his reporting for the Times, one feels that he exposed only a tip of this iceberg.