I was watching Chris Hayes coverage on The Last Word of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal earlier this evening (video here) and he actually pointed out something I had not realized about this deplorable case. In his statement, Rupert Murdoch assured that Joel Klein and Viet Dinh would be responsible for overseeing News Corp.’s cooperation with the investigation. The first several times I saw reference to those names today, they meant nothing to me. Then as I was watching Chris Hayes tonight, he pointed out who Viet Dinh is. Viet Dinh was the Assistant Attorney General of the United States under President George W. Bush and is credited as being the author and mastermind of the USA PATRIOT Act (which I also call “The most unConstitutional legislation ever passed by a US Congress” Act). If you’ve been living under a rock since 9/11, then you don’t know that part of the USA PATRIOT Act made it basically legal for law enforcement agencies to tap phones without a warrant.
Let me make this clear: Rupert Murdoch has chosen the author of a bill that made it legal for agencies to eavesdrop on citizens to oversee cooperation with the investigation of illegal phone hacking by one of his newspapers. You cannot make shit like this up. Seriously.
Don’t take my word for it. Watch this. Guarantee you’ll learn something.
If you’re American like me, it’s safe to assume you were (like me) too engaged in Independence Day related festivities to pay attention to the news yesterday. If that’s the case, you likely missed a story which broke across the pond yesterday thanks to The Guardian. Of course, American media has completely ignored it so you may not have heard anyway. I implore you to read it for yourself, but I shall give you a summary:
A private investigator, at the behest of News of the World (a British paper owned by News International, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp), hacked the voicemail of a thirteen year old girl who had gone missing. Once her mailbox was full, they then proceeded to delete voicemails which mislead the family into believing the girl still alive and destroyed evidence in an open and ongoing missing persons investigation.
All of this in the interest of selling newspapers. If you follow UK news at all, you already know that this is not the first case of hacking the Murdoch owned media conglomerate is being investigated for.
Why does this matter to us stateside? The answer to that is fairly simple. The UK and Australia are not the only places where political discourse is shaped by Murdoch-owned media; he has quite the presence here as well (including but not limited to the all-together detestable Fox News and heavily circulated New York Post.) Who’s to say these poor (and quite likely illegal) practices of faux journalism have not been imported here?
Our brothers and sisters in the Middle East and North Africa are raging against their governments. It has been suggested many times that the same needs to happen here in the West; I disagree. The foundations of our governments are stable, our freedom relies on the existence of a free press. Our press, however, is no longer free. It is owned by men and corporations more interested in making money than investigating the gross abuse of power our politicians exhibit. They care more about the bottom line than the knowledge of their viewers and readers. It is not yet time to overthrow the governments of the West, but it is time to restore our trust in media. It’s time to rage against the Murdoch machine.