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Phone Hacking Scandal

News Corp. Has Spent $382 Million on Phone Hacking Scandal Legal Fees

News Corporation has been dealing with the ramifications of its phone hacking scandal for over two years now. During that time, it has shelled out $382 million in legal fees. That’s quite a number. We hear not being shady is less expensive, but don’t quote us on that.

The bleeding won’t likely stop there, either. In its first financial statement since News Corp. split into News Corp. and 21st Century Fox, the Press Gazette reports that the company expects to pay out at least $66 million more in legal fees. With news that Senator Jay Rockefeller might launch an investigation into News Corp., $66 million might even end up being a low estimate.

We know you’re probably feeling bad for News Corp., but save your tears. Despite paying out millions in legal fees,  News Corp. still reported $506 million profit, and total revenue was $8.9 billion. So we think it’ll be okay.

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Senator Seeks Evidence in News Corp. Phone Hacking

Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate’s Commerce Committee, is putting the squeeze on News Corporation. The Telegraph reports that Rockefeller flew to News Corp.’s London headquarters to gather evidence of phone hacking. Any information obtained could then be used for a potential Senate investigation into the Rupert Murdoch media empire.

When news of the scandal broke in 2011, Rockefeller was a vocal critic of News Corp. He urged the FBI and DOJ to open investigations into the company, and they both have. Their cases — which are still underway — involve the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which concerns American companies bribing foreign officials.

Last year, during the Leveson Inquiry, Rockefeller wrote Judge Leveson, claiming that he was “interested in learning whether any of the conduct you are investigating falls within the jurisdiction of US laws.” It appears that his curiosity has only grown since then.

News Corp Brushes Aside Secret Rupert Murdoch Recording

In public statements, Rupert Murdoch has sounded extremely remorseful about the infamous phone hacking scandal. But in a secret recording, made by someone at the Sun, Murdoch came off quite differently.

According to a report by Exaro and the UK’s Channel 4 news, Murdoch explained to arrested staffers that the hacking was “next to nothing” and had been going for many years. When Geoff Webster, the Sun’s deputy editor, suggested they should “hit back back when we can,” Murdoch agreed, saying, “We will; we will.”

Naturally the tape caused quite an uproar, but News Corp. is doing its best to brush it all aside.

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Leveson Report Suggests News Corp. Cover-Up

The phone hacking scandal report from Judge Brian Leveson, who examined an exhaustive amount of evidence, proposes that News Corp. actively covered up information about the incident. According to Bloomberg News, the 2,000 page report explains that when News Corp. was presented with the hacking claims, it didn’t do nearly enough to investigate them.

“Questions were there to be asked and simple denials should not have been considered sufficient,” explained Leveson, in his report. “This suggests a cover-up by somebody and at more than one level.”

If you’ve been following the phone hacking story, this will come as little surprise to you. But despite Leveson’s claims, it’s worth wondering if anything will change, and if anyone actually wants it to; at least the way Leveson suggests.

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Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks Face New Charges of Bribery

Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, two top aides to Rupert Murdoch that are already in deep with the phone hacking scandal, are now being charged with bribery. Coulson — the former head of media for Britain’s Prime Minister — and Brooks — the ex editor of News of The World — are currently facing phone hacking charges, which could mean a two year jail sentence for each.

According to The New York Times, Coulson and Brooks are among five people being charged with bribery. The new charges come via a police inquiry titled “Operation Elveden.” During investigations, British authorities found that the five people involved had authorized payments for information, specifically involving the Royal Family.

“The allegations relate to the request and authorization of payments to public officials in exchange for information, including a palace phone directory known as the ‘Green Book’ containing contact details for the Royal Family and Members of the Household,” said Alison Levitt, a prosecutor handling the case.

[Image - AFP/Carl Court]

Rebekah Brooks Got $11 Million Pay-Off

Rebekah Brooks, one of the key players in the phone hacking scandal, got one hell of a severance package when she departed News International. According to The Guardian, Brooks was paid more than 7 million pounds (about $11.2 million), which included “cash payments for loss of service, pension enhancement, money for legal costs, a car and an office.” Unemployment doesn’t sound so bad with that number in your pocket.

Of course Brooks is still awaiting trial — she was charged with illegally tapping phones, and could go to jail for two years — so those millions could go to waste.

News International has never formally commented on her Brooks’ payment, but some speculate that there are “clawbacks” built into her package, meaning she would have to pay back some of that cash if she is found guilty. That would certainly make being imprisoned even worse.

Rupert Murdoch Calls Phone Hacking Victims ‘Scumbags’

Rupert Murdoch, Twitter user extraordinaire, has fired off a doozy of a tweet. As you can see, Murdoch didn’t appreciate members of the Hacked Off group talking with the UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron. Hacked Off consists of some celebrities — such as Hugh Grant — who had their phones hacked by News of The World. It’s a group dedicated to gaining an accountable UK media, in response to the phone hacking scandal.

Murdoch immediately faced backlash for the comment and so he backed off a bit, explaining to one person, “never referred to any particular people, just some ‘dodgy’ self promoting celebrities.”

Oh, right! If you’re a celebrity you probably deserved to have your phone hacked. While we agree that Grant should be punished for Did You Hear About The Morgans?, we don’t agree that his phone should have been tampered with.

Clean-Living James Murdoch to Run Fox Networks Group

James Murdoch hasn’t overseen a company that illegally hacked people’s phones for several months now, so of course he is getting a promotion. This is America, and that’s how we do things. Or at least that’s how the Murdoch’s do things. Get involved in a scandal? Get rewarded with a bigger job!

The Wall Street Journal reports that Murdoch — currently deputy chief operating officer of News Corp. — will oversee Fox Networks Group, which includes a slew of channels, including Fox, FX, and National Geographic. The only catch? Murdoch isn’t getting control of Fox News or Fox Business which will still be overseen by Roger Ailes.

We’re being serious when we say we can’t wait to see what Murdoch does with this new role.

News Corp. Wisely Adds Board Member with Ties to Phone Hacking

News Corporation, in what can only be described as a brilliant move, has added former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to its board. What makes this such a wise choice? Uribe’s close allies were once accused of illegal wiretapping. A round of applause, please, for News Corp.

According to Bloomberg News, Uribe’s former chief of staff, Bernardo Moreno, was arrested on phone hacking charges last year and Uribe’s ex head of intelligence, Maria del Pilar Hurtado, escaped to Panama (with the help of Uribe) to avoid similar charges.

Adam Isacson, an expert on Colombia in the Washington Office on Latin America, told Bloomberg, “When people talk about the dark side of Uribe, this is one of the main scandals that sullied his reputation.”

Notice Isacson said “one of the main scandals,” as in Uribe has been involved in more unethical situations than just the wiretapping. Brovo News Corp!

Rebekah Brooks Charged with Conspiring to Hack Phones

Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of News of The World and the flashpoint for the News Corp. phone hacking scandal, has been officially charged with conspiring to hack into phones.

It was just last week that Brooks, Andy Coulson (former media head for Britain’s Prime Minister) and five others were accused of “conspiracy unlawfully to intercept communications.”

The Huffington Post reports that all six are being charged with hacking phones over a six year period.

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