Congressmen Call For News Corp Probe
Repercussions of the News International telephone hacking scandal in Britain are now being felt in the U.S., with several congressmen calling for an investigation to determine whether the alleged criminal activities conducted in the U.K. spread to this country. Several reports noted that prominent Republican lawmakers are among those demanding a probe, somewhat surprising given News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch's longtime support of Republican candidates and conservative issues. On Wednesday, Republican Congressman Peter King of New York called on the FBI to investigate British reports claiming that reporters working for Murdoch's recently shuttered News of the World attempted to obtain phone records of 9/11 victims. New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said that given the numbers of telephone hacking victims in Britain, it was "imperative to investigate whether victims in the United States have been affected as well." He was joined by fellow New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller and California Senator Barbara Boxer. As was perhaps to be expected, the Fox News Channel, which is owned by News Corp, has only in recent weeks even mentioned the scandal involving its U.K. sibling, while rival MSNBC has jumped on it. In a commentary, Martin Bashir said on the news channel that British politicians have kowtowed to Murdoch, fearing his power. "Mr. Murdoch is a disturbing example of what can happen when government falls on its knees and gets out of the way. An unelected media baron begins to dominate public discourse even to the point of determining the outcome of a general election. Let's hope that Mr. Murdoch is never allowed to do the same thing in this country," Bashir said. Meanwhile, several members of the family that sold Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal to News Corp in 2007 told ProPublica.com today that they would not have done so if they had been aware of the recent accusations. Lisa Steele, one former member of the Dow Jones board, said that "it would have been harder, if not impossible" to have accepted the bid. "The ethics are clear to me," she said. "What's been revealed ... is terrible. It may even be criminal."