In recent posts about Rupert Murdoch, I have used graphics, prose and rhyme to depict the man as a pirate and his media empire as the ship on which he sails the 7 seas. I’m glad to learn that at least one person agrees with me … Rupert Murdoch himself. In his post How Bad Is News Corp.? (ADWEEK.com), Michael Wolff relates:
When I was beginning my book, just after the company acquired Dow Jones, Murdoch was being encouraged to think about a new branding campaign for the company (“branding” is a modern concept Murdoch would otherwise sneer at) — the notion he fastened on and had to be talked out of involved making the symbol of the company a pirate ship.
But technology marches on and Murdoch’s Jolly Ship Empire sprouts wings and catches the eye of the FAA. In her post FAA Looks Into News Corp’s Daily Drone, Raising Questions About Who Gets to Fly Drones in the U.S. (Forbes.com) Kashmir Hill relates that the FAA is looking into this latest droning Murdoch matter. Meanwhile, she says, there are plans afoot to make this type of surveillance legal. So, one wonders: Is Murdoch’s eye in the sky his Flying Dutchman or is it the wave of our future?
Lester Haines picks up on Hill’s post with Murdoch accused of operating illegal US air force (The Register.com). The headline is hyperbolic, but Haines is good on the tech aspects of the drone. His speculation that: “The WASP’s compact computer may be of particular interest to News Corporation since it is capable of sniffing Wi-Fi networks and intercepting mobile phone calls” does not seem wild in light of the Murdoch Empire’s recent problems in Britain. But while Haines’ speculation is probably not wild, his imaginings for Murdoch’s front door probably are … but one can dream.
The FAA may be the lesser of Murdoch’s worries. According to Wolff:
Well-sourced information coming out of the Department of Justice and the FBI suggests a debate is going on that could result in the recently launched investigations of News Corp. falling under the RICO statutes.
And as Wolff documents, there’s already some good evidence out in the public domain about illegal activities, including:
charges that one of its subsidiaries, News America Marketing, illegally hacked the computer system of a competitor, Floorgraphics, and then, using the information it had gleaned, tried to extort it into selling out to News Corp.; allegations that relationships the New York Post has maintained with New York City police officers may have involved exchanges of favors and possibly money for information; and accusations that Fox chief Roger Ailes sought to have an executive in the company, the book publisher Judith Regan, lie to investigators about details of her relationship with New York police commissioner Bernie Kerik in order to protect the political interests of Rudy Giuliani, then a presidential prospect…
There is the inexplicable story of Richard Johnson, the Post’s Page Six editor who admitted to taking payoffs from sources that wanted favorable coverage. He has continued to thrive in the company. There’s the executive at News America Marketing, Paul Carlucci, who despite the apparent and costly illegalities that occurred under his management, was promoted within News Corp. And there’s Bill O’Reilly: well-documented charges of sexual harassment have not in the least dimmed his career at Fox News.
There’s much, much more in the article, including discussion about how News Corp. hires “the kind of people who would be in thrall to one man.” I believe those kind of people are called “authoritarians;” they like “authoritarianism.” Which makes them anti-democratic.