Opinion: Give Murdoch Credit for Shuttering News of the World

Monday, July 11, 2011 - 10:16 AM

I have a confession to make: despite the common put-down of Republicans that we take our marching orders from Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity, I don't watch Fox News. The reason isn't very complicated.

A story will break on Twitter or Drudge and we'll all collectively wait for the TV news stations to pick up on it a day or two later. TV news doesn't fit in with my need to know everything right this second. I get 100% of my news online.

Don't get me wrong, I love that Fox News exists. I once heard someone say about it: Fox News found a niche demographic - half the country. That's exactly it. For too long TV news was delivered from a left-liberal perspective and now there is a counterbalance to that. Hurrah!

So liberals shouldn't get too gleeful, "too late" that the recent awful, disgusting scandal involving the News of the World in the UK, will not have much of an effect on their most-hated TV station.

Yes, they're both owned by Rupert Murdoch, but there's nothing to imply that there is a top-down culture that condones disrupting police investigations.

In case you haven't heard, several reporters at News of the World hacked into a missing 13-year old girl's voicemail and then, in a gross violation of their profession and of human standards in general, proceeded to delete messages when her voicemail box became full. This led to police believing she was alive and simply deleting her own messages, when in fact she had been murdered thereby confusing their investigation.

The way the Murdoch family is handling the NOTW situation is more than admirable. They are closing down this 168 year old newspaper and admitting that "wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued."

The fact is, media credibility has taken a serious hit in the last decade. It isn't simply the bias, although that doesn't help, it's the lack of credibility. The New York Times didn't shut down when Jayson Blair turned out to be a fabricator.

CBS didn't go off the air when they and Dan Rather fell for the most obvious forged document of all time. The fact that the Murdoch family is responding to this scandal by completely shutting down operations is admirable. The News of the World has violated the public's trust and unlike other violators it won't be given the opportunity to do so again.

Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 BabyShe can be followed on Twitter.


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Comments [13]

Karol -

The depth of corruption within NewsCorps org. structure is still TBD, in my opinion.

Was this 'a few bad apples' or standard operating procedure -- shielded by enough layers to provide 'plausible deniability'?? NewsCorps shares have taken a beating but is the beating over?

I am very uncomfortable with an organization that employs such tactics being the publisher for the main source of financial news. Yes or no...if you were a Fortune 500 CEO, would you be changing the PIN on your cell phone a weekly basis?

Aug. 06 2011 11:09 AM
OthugoisaLOSER1 from Aberdeen, WA

I see the NEW YOURK TIMES getting hit with a similiar scandal soon and its going to happen sooner rather then later

Jul. 21 2011 12:53 PM
Marcello from Brooklyn

Here is another example of how conservatives' main problem is with the very perception of what reality is.
Speaking of Fox News, KM is saying that "For too long TV news was delivered from a left-liberal perspective and now there is a counterbalance to that".
One wonders has she ever seen the documentary "Outfoxed"? Does she really think that there could be any sort of equivalency between Fox News and any of the other TV networks? We could talk about MSNBC, (which I say is still nowhere close to the level of bias and sheer message manipulation of Fox) but "delivered by a left leaning perspective"?...
The problem is that the concept of "neutral" and "objective" (in other words of "fact") is completely out of their intellectual grasp. For them there are only "opinions" those they like and those they don't. So if something is against their narrative, it is immediately considered a "left-biased opinion" regardless of whether or not it is true. Global Warming is the perfect example: a series of scientific facts proved by experimental evidence that come from a number of different scientific sources and all pointing at the same conclusion.
But for conservatives it is some sort of hoax perpetrated by an un-specified kabal of who knows who. This in spite of the fact that the major economic interests behind the denial of Global Warming are the only ones who have a stake in manipulating this message.

Jul. 15 2011 02:35 PM
geoffrey from New York

I think you come to this story late. If they had closed the paper 7 years ago, maybe an attaboy would be appropriate. But since the NOTW parent lied and tried to stonewall for all that time... and given the fact that the perpatrators have long since moved on to other positions, like the editor of the Wall Street Journal, it is possible that the story will find its way across the atlantic. So they are cutting a bunch of people who had nothing to do with the story. Not so admirable in my opinion.

Jul. 13 2011 07:42 PM
Harrison Bergeron from Fair Lawn NJ

@ Karol: I'm sorry to pile on, but you got this wrong. This is not the kind of decision big guys make quickly. This has been planned for a while and is surely a tactical move.

@ Theo Brainin from London: I agree with you completely.
In addition to your points, note also that any possible police investigation into further wrongdoing is effectivly crippled since there is no newspaper, records are scattered or destroyed, witnesses are scattered and harder to track down, etc..

Jul. 12 2011 09:20 PM

Regarding the Dan Rather story, it STILL has yet been proven wrong!

Fox is surely one of the worst things to happen in this country with its extremely gullible and uninformed rabid mob-mentality viewers.

Fox is no better here. It lies every single day or omits. Fox viewers have given up their brains.

Jul. 12 2011 10:44 AM
addicted44 from NYC

You have to either be willfully deceitful, or insanely naive to give Murdoch credit for shutting down News of the World. This was nothing but a cost-cutting measure, which he tried to spin as "doing the right thing". Here are the facts:

1) The actual person running the paper (Rebecca Brooks) during that time is still on the payroll, although there is evidence that she was aware of this and encouraged it.

2) The News of the World was a Sunday weekly. Another Murdoch property (the Sun) did not publish on Sundays. A couple of months from now, the Sun will start publishing a Sunday edition. You think thats just a coincidence?

3) Finally, Murdoch makes little to no money out of his newspapers. (All his newspapers combined make him less profits than any single television network). He will sacrifice all his newspaper properties in order to try and salvage the BSkyB deal.

Jul. 12 2011 01:46 AM
ElmoreFleet from NYC

Wow. That was amazing. Usually I do not comment unless it's a positive note. But this time the writer, Ms. Markowitz is either lacking information, or is being so partisan that it boggles the mind that I should read her opinions here of all places. Yes, I suppose Mr. Murdoch bares no weight in this matter according to your editorial. A few "rogue reporters" spoiled it for all the good folks until they'd run out of celebritains, pols, and cops to hack then picked on dead children's families, 7/7 families, and Iraq War veteran's families. That the Murdoch's real interest in closing down NOTW was to save the BSkyB deal had nothing to do with it. Interesting.

Jul. 11 2011 11:04 PM
Jason from Manhattan

Is this commentary supposed to be a joke? Murdoch knew for years that phone hacking had been going on and did nothing to address the issue. In fact, Murdoch's own son had repeatedly denied that hacking had taken place. Funny thing is The Guardian had been reporting on it since late 2008. But the biggest offense of Murdoch and New of the World is their fostering of a predatory media atmosphere in which breaking the law became a normal course of action in order to further sensationalize a tragedy, blackmail, and make money.

Also to equate what happened to Dan Rather and News of the World's conscious breaking of the law and the subsequent cover up is beyond intellectually lazy.

Jul. 11 2011 10:15 PM
SM from Gotham

I'd be willing to bet the truth is somewhere in the middle, and eventually it will out.

Has to be financial -- there's gotta be details the collective "we" does not know. Could be avoidance: if NOTW no longer exists, can it be sued? Does this make individual hackers legally chargeable (and thus let RM off hook for their defense)? Are the former emps getting moved to other RM vehicles? Is this all just a smokescreen for something worse? What does RM actually know about all that hacking?

I can think of more questions. I think it's easier to make a stab at conciliatory behavior ... even if that's hardly how RM feels or acts. Are there things about _some_ NOTW that we are NOT supposed to know? Friends who are too friendly? Wrong person whose dastardly deeds should not see light of day?

There are losses to be cut here, and RM is hardly a fool.

Jul. 11 2011 06:11 PM
NABNYC from SoCal

This is a legal tactic designed to avoid liability, that's all. They shut it down. So what? They probably were considering consolidating operations even without this scandal, so now they will publish under some new name, continuing to bribe politicians, corrupt the political system, lie, cheat, defame, demean, invade people's privacy, all for the enrichment of that old man Rupert Murdoch. It's just silly to say this is done in penance. It's a strategic move, that's all.

Jul. 11 2011 03:12 PM
Karol from NYC

I agree that their behavior was atrocious but other news organizations merely punished a few people and moved on when they were caught behaving badly.

Jul. 11 2011 03:11 PM
Theo Brainin from London

Apologies, but this is a ridiculously rose-tinted perspective of the conduct of News International.

Executives have obfuscated and attempted to obstruct investigation from the very beginning - the Guardian has been publishing information on phone hacking since 2009, Murdoch could have acted a long time ago - instead News International made mocking denials in response to the coverage, and payed off high profile victims in out of court settlements in order to gag them.

Ignorance is a poor excuse - if a newspaper external to News International could uncover these details, senior players *inside* the company certainly could have. They either covered it up, or chose not to investigate.

The News of the World has only been shuttered in the face of an overwhelming tide of revelations regarding this foul play, in the space of a few days. This has only been done to bolster Murdoch's bid for the far more profitable BSkyB, which is hanging in the balance.

Moreover, most of the staff present at the News of the World had nothing to do with hacking that went back many years, and they've all been fired. In the meantime, Rebekah Brooks, the editor of the News of the World when hacking was ongoing, is now the top dog at News International and keeps her job.

If that's admirable, I'd hate to see what isn't...

Jul. 11 2011 11:08 AM

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