Senator Jay Rockefeller is asking that News International be investigated in the USA for alleged phone hacking of 911 victims. As Mr Murdoch’s empire gets most of its revenue from 20th Century Fox and the Fox network, losing its name in the USA is potentially very serious.
But I’d say this is actually a wake-up call for anybody who still believes problems like this can be isolated to just one country. News media is international, although the product is tailored for the tastes of various populations by local editors. Allowing one man and one company to oversee a global news and media network, invites problems.
For decades British politicians have been boosting their reputations through courting media magnates, giving men like Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch influence they do not deserve. In the USA, political support is conferred via large amounts of money for election campaigns, with less-than-transparent paybacks later on. In the UK, with our hierarchical social system, the paybacks come from media magnates and their editors becoming part of the chattering community of Great and Good who set much of the agenda – as opposed to remaining separate from it and commenting impartially. The toadying becomes mutual and the Country suffers.
This also reminds me of that other international problem – terrorism.
Certain countries are considered ambivalent to terrorists – harbouring them, turning a blind eye to their presence; and if not actually helping them, not taking action against them. In some of these countries, the terrorists’ ideals or aims are shared by influential sectors of the population. Their governments dare not take action, and the terrorists are able to develop this popular support whilst carrying out terror operations in other countries. The USA is critical of several countries in this respect – threatening them with sanctions, and taking unilateral military action within their borders against these terrorists.
The UK with its vainglorious political leaders has certainly encouraged News International, and now it looks as though the USA might be recognising the implications. I’m pretty sure the USA will consider the problem to be of British making, through the toleration and possible duplicity of many including policemen – some very senior I’m sure, and the lack of establishment desire to upset Murdoch. There’s an obvious parallel in this to certain countries’ toleration – and exportation – of terror. Some might even accuse of News International and the Fox empire of cultural terrorism. Britain’s international reputation will suffer.