Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch ate humble pie in his appearance before a committee of the British House of Commons July 18. Yet police are still investigating 3,700 victims whose personal cell phone messages were spied on by Murdoch’s hackers, victims ranging from the royal family to a 13-year-old murdered girl.
The scandal is so virulent that Paul Stephenson, chief commissioner of Scotland Yard, resigned amid charges that police officials took huge bribes to furnish Murdoch’s gossipmongers with cell phone numbers and other private information of the victims.
The FBI is investigating a report that Murdoch’s now-defunct tabloid, News of the World, attempted to hack into the phone messages of families of the 9/11 terrorist victims in New York City.
It brings back memories of the uncontrolled meltdown that came to be called “Watergate,” which forced President Richard Nixon to resign.
It is worth remembering the opening statement of Sen. Sam Ervin, D-N.C., chair of the Watergate hearings in 1975. Ervin said that the burglars who broke into the Democratic National Committee’s Watergate offices on behalf of Nixon’s Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP) “were in effect breaking into the home of every citizen of the United States.”
The burglars were seeking to steal not jewels, money, or other private property, Ervin continued, “but something much more valuable – their most precious heritage: the right to vote in a free election.”
Ervin added that Nixon’s Watergate conspiracy revealed “the same mentality as the Gestapo.”
Hacking the phone messages of a girl who was abducted and murdered is a loathsome crime. Yet even more sinister is Murdoch’s greed for authoritarian political power, using his media megaphone to smash unions, intimidate the opposition, and put in office politicians who carry out his pro-corporate, anti-people agenda. Murdoch was a backer of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her destructive, anti-worker economic policies. His U.S. media holdings, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and most notoriously Fox News, have boosted tea party extremism, racism and anti-immigrant hysteria in service of a right-wing corporate fat-cat agenda, through an aggressive brand of sleazy “attack journalism,” based on lies and distortions.
This is a far more insidious form of “breaking into the home of every citizen” than Watergate.