The Wall Street Journal / The New York Times / Poynter.org
Damage from the phone hacking scandal continues to spread, with British Prime Minister David Cameron urging News Corp. to drop its takeover bid for British satellite broadcaster BSkyB and U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller calling for federal regulators to investigate whether News Corp. broke U.S. laws when its British tabloid reporters hacked into voicemails. ”I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans,” Rockefeller said in a written statement. “If they did, the consequences will be severe.”
Earlier Wednesday morning in the U.S. (noon in England), Cameron described the government’s two-part inquiry: one focusing on general media practices, the other focusing on illegal activities at News of the World and other British tabloids. The New York Times’ Lede blog live-blogged the event.
Among all the steps that the British government should take, The New York Times argues in an editorial, it shouldn’t increase press regulation. “British public life needs the disinfecting sunlight of a free press, not the chilling shadow of official oversight.”
Rockefeller didn’t specify who should investigate News Corp., but ProPublica is reporting that the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice could have jurisdiction. Payoffs as the ones alleged to have taken place between tabloid employees and police could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribery and falsifying records at publicly-traded companies such as News Corp.
All this has News Corp. executives thinking of unloading its British tabloids, according to The Wall Street Journal, which says that the company has informally looked for buyers.
Although the media are covering every angle of this story now, for a couple of years the Guardian was alone in its pursuit, Deputy Editor Ian Katz tells Poynter’s Mallary Tenore.
“On any story, that can be a very lonely place to be when you keep throwing these pebbles in the pond and you don’t see the ripples of your rivals following up,” Katz said. “The single most important attribute has been Nick Davies’ tenacity … I think a lot of reporters would have wilted after weeks and months of denials and police coming out and saying there’s no evidence here.”
Jedi knight: When Joel Klein, who is now overseeing News Corp.’s internal investigation, moved to the board of directors, “It was almost as though a jedi was moving into the Evil Empire.” (paidContent.org)
Pick one: Bill Grueskin, former deputy managing editor of the Journal, tells The Wrap that Rebekah “Brooks and her fellow editors were incompetent, or they were complicit and have been, well, less than candid.”