DoJ Should Prosecute Newscorp

Murdoch and the British phone-hacking scandal: Why the U.S. should prosecute News Corp. and strip its TV licenses if it’s guilty. – By Eliot Spitzer – Slate Magazine

First, it is hard to believe that the misbehavior in Murdoch’s media empire stopped at the water’s edge. Given the frequency with which he shuttled his senior executives and editors across the various oceans—Pacific as well as Atlantic—it is unlikely that the shoddy ethics were limited to Great Britain.

Much more importantly, the facts already pretty well established in Britain indicate violations of American law, in particular a law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Justice Department has been going out of its way to undertake FCPA prosecutions and investigations in recent years, and the News Corp. case presents a pretty simple test for Attorney General Eric Holder: If the department fails to open an immediate investigation into News Corp.’s violations of the FCPA, there will have been a major breach of enforcement at Justice. Having failed to pursue Wall Street with any apparent vigor, this is an opportunity for the Justice Department to show it can flex its muscles at the right moment. While one must always be cautious in seeking government investigation of the media for the obvious First Amendment concerns, this is not actually an investigation of the media, but an investigation of criminal acts undertaken by those masquerading as members of the media.

What is the FCPA? Enacted after the scandals of the 1970s in which American corporations were bribing overseas officials in order to secure business deals, the FCPA was an effort to bring some baseline of ethics to international business. It prohibits any American company or citizen from paying or offering to pay—directly or indirectly—a foreign official, foreign political figure, or candidate for the purpose of influencing that person in any decision relating to his official duties, including inducing that person to act in violation of his or her lawful duty. Very importantly, even if all such acts occur overseas, the American company and citizen will still be held liable here. So acts in Britain by British citizens working on behalf of News Corp. create liability for News Corp., an American business incorporated in Delaware and listed on American financial exchanges.

The rampant violations of British law alleged—payments to cops to influence ongoing investigations and the hacking of phones—are sufficient predicates for the Justice Department to investigate. Indeed, the facts as they are emerging are a case study for why the FCPA was enacted. We do not want companies whose headquarters are here—as News Corp.’s is—or that are listed on our financial exchanges—as News Corp. is—polluting the waters of international commerce with illegal behavior. (News Corp. shareholders are also rising against the company, with a huge lawsuit filed Monday in Delaware by three institutional investors claiming that company executives failed to act quickly enough to stop the phone hacking.)

The other reason to investigate here is that there is serious doubt that this matter can be investigated properly in Great Britain. Scotland Yard is already implicated, as is Cameron’s government. DoJ can and should fill the void.

If DoJ does investigate and if a court were to find News Corp. liable, the penalties should extend beyond the traditional monetary fine. News Corp. should also have its FCC licenses revoked. Licensure and relicensure by the FCC require that the licensee abide by the law and serve the public interest. News Corp. appears to have blatantly violated this basic standard. Its licenses should be pulled.


10 comments on “DoJ Should Prosecute Newscorp

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  1. pretty flunkin stupid and excessive and blatantly unAmerican.

    presumption of guilt in things that transpired in another country inflated beyond their import and tied, in a neat little package of guilt by association, to things here to presume guilt here in an investigation that hasn’t begun here….and therefore …..

    simple as 1…7…86

    Its licenses should be pulled.

    ….and she’s a witch.

  2. The DSCC instituted a return all NewsCorp contributions petition, only
    problem, NewsCorp gave almost twice as much to the Democrats,
    ‘stupid humans’

  3. @ miguel cervantes:
    I’d like to see evidence/a link on that, and specifics such as dates and type of contribution. Also, as far as the direct $$$$ go, it’s a whole new world, to quote Princess Jasmine, especially in the post-Citizens United universe.

    You also have people like Rove and especially Morris who, when I was watching FNC, were constantly directly pitching their own PACs or similar orgs. All of the rest of their infotainers – Palin, Huckabee, Hannity, the former Beck all had their own spins on the set-up: The whole network IS a massive in-kind contribution to the Republican Party.

  4. miggs, If the Newscorp has managed to penetrate the Defense Supply Center in Columbus, the chances are great that the whole of the Defense Logistics Agency has been compromised.

    Can you trust your sources on this???????

  5. That seems so small-time especially if the Newscorp is moving to bypass the civilian government and seize control of the military through the supply chain.

    If miggs has solid information on this, it would be a huge, huge story…. and probably won’t ever be reported.
    The embedding of reporters in the military was only the first step…. and now it’s gone metastatic.

    Hell, it may now be beyond the ability of the DoJ to attempt to prosecute Newscorp.
    Should they try, the lawyers may well find themselves scooped up by SEAL teams and getting hosed in Guantanamo.

  6. I don’t have much use for Morris, a little more for Rove, because he does have some historical basis for his strategery, we can go back to every time, the Contributions from Media companies, are tallied up,

    Actually it comes from a Politico story, that a friend linked me, is it possible they got it wrong, yes, they are the embodiment of Frankfurt’s philosophy,

  7. Britain’s The Guardian newspaper has apologized to The Sun tabloid for claiming that The Sun illicitly accessed the medical records of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s son.

    The Guardian’s initial story, which accused The Sun of accessing the files to sustain a “scoop” saying Brown’s son had cystic fibrosis, added to growing outrage in Britain amid allegations of phone hacking at another one of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloids.

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