Media Week: Three Blog Weddings -- and a Murdoch Funeral?

 

Tim Armstrong and Arianna HuffingtonAn impressive National Press Club speech by Arianna Huffington last week found its converse in Rupert Murdoch’s meltdown over the phone hacking scandal. The Huffington Post founder and AOL CEO and Chairman Tim Armstrong, left, portrayed a bright future after AOL's $315 million purchase last winter of the company she founded and leads as an AOL subsidiary.

Their story contrasted sharply with Murdoch's firings and financial reverses following a growing scandal that prompted the Sunday arrest of one of Murdoch's top aides and the resignation of London's police chief. A member of Parliament described the situation this way: “The water is now lapping around the ankles of the Murdoch family.” Murdoch, 80, is scheduled to testify with his son, James, on July 19 before Parliament. He is portrayed below at the World Economic Forum in a photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Away from the headlines, last week showed landmark progress for Legal Schnauzer, an Alabama blog on legal refoRupert Murdochrm that recorded its one millionth page view. This is a remarkable achievement for my friend Roger Shuler, who runs a terrific site that he started four years ago as a public service.

 Similar success is reported by CT Watchdog founder George Gombossy, my colleague at the Hartford Courant for many years and now publisher of my commentaries on national affairs.

Gombossy announced this month the launch of Watchdog sites in Florida and Massachusetts, plus job openings for staff. He and Shuler got their start as highly regarded journalists at metro dailies -- and they typify the leadership in the new web-based news platforms that the public needs to bypass today’s information gatekeepers in the traditional media.

In recent years, both Shuler and Gombossy lost their jobs by fighting on behalf of readers and for strong professional standards. So, their current success benefits many people. Kindly click to the next page for details.

Last year, our Justice Integrity Project reported to you that part of our mission must be to cover news about the news media. That’s because no Spiked Covermeaningful legal reform can occur if the public doesn’t know about abuses.

Why won’t traditional media report them in a sustained way? Major cutbacks are causing huge cutbacks in reporting at local and national levels. Most of the major newspaper chains have closed their Washington news bureaus, which used to be housed at the century-old Press Club and its environs. These days, news organizations are increasingly run on a bottom-line basis, as I reported a quarter-century ago in my investigative book, Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America's Oldest Newspaper.

Bedeviled by debt from over-expansion a few years ago, news organizations now frequently self-censor themselves in fear of antagonizing advertisers or powerful allies in business or government.

The long-obvious mutual back-scratching between traditional media and politicians exploded into public view recently with the phone hacking scandal. This centers in part on efforts by Murdoch employees in the United Kingdom illegally to obtain private information about politicians, celebrities and other news sources that could be leveraged for power, advertising and newspaper sales.

For such reasons, the progress last week of these three web-based start-ups is gratifying evidence of breakthroughs on self-censorship by the media restricting the information we need for sound public policy.
 
Most prominent was the speech by the Huffington Post's founder and Armstrong, who are portrayed in the photo above by Press Club volunteer Al Teich taken on July 15, the birthday for both speakers. They described how their venture has put 1,300 editorial staff on the payroll, covering both local news (largely via AOL’s super-local “Patch” service) along with an expanding array of Huffington Post coverage areas. One of these initiatives, symbolically but coincidentally, was launch of a UK HuffPo edition. This was almost at the same time Murdoch closed the News of the World, his largest-circulation UK paper, because of its years of phone-hacking scandals. These are being increasingly exposed after years of cover-up by police. The Huffington Post account of her speech is below, with a video link.
 
Obama Inaugural PhotoIn fairness, any diversified company has a mixed record. Armstrong confessed that AOL declined in many respects following its iconic early successes. Armstrong made the case that news and other information content will become AOL's strong point.
 
I have a ring-side view of this as a Huffington Post blogger since it front-paged a scoop of mine about the Obama Inauguration in 2009, Why the President ‘Stepped Out’ During His Inaugural Parade. I illustrated the piece with my photo at right of the President and First Lady (in a yellow suit) as they emerged from their white limo. they can be seen strolling behind the limo, just to the right of the center flagpole on the part of the avenue between the National Archives, at top, and the Navy Memorial.
 
Yet the American Society of Journalists and Authors, my favorite writer's group for a quarter century of membership, and my New York literary agent are among those who oppose my writing for free, as I have done for Huffington Post.
 
The counter-arguments are even more persuasive to me. For my investigative work, Huffington Post is more like a television guest appearance (which are unpaid by tradition) than a paid magazine assignment that has publication in the distant future after the news has lost its edge. For those reasons, I simply congratulated Huffington for her progress after her speech and thanked her for the opportunity to publish significant material about abuses in the justice system.
 
Among them are my revelations regarding the federal prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. One in 2009 was, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company. Sadly, this is the kind of report that the traditional media are extremely reluctant to report.  It centers on truly powerful people and companies, far more important the typical elected politician.
 
Regarding the two other web-based success stories:  Alabama's Roger Shuler published a retrospective July 15 in which he said he is glad he started his blog four years ago to chronicle injustices such as the Siegelman case even though he alleges that his blog, undertaken entirely on his own time and at his own expense, prompted the University of Alabama unjustly to fire him after 19 years on the job. His work as a university communications specialist followed his long career earlier as a reporter at the Birmingham News. Shuler says that the same right-wing forces in Alabama that increasingly control the Governor's mansion, judiciary, traditional newspapers and other opinion-leaders pressured for his firing from his university job as retribution for his commentaries. Similarly, they exacted forced the unjust firing of his wife from her job, he says on both his column and in pending litigation. The couple is barely scraping by financially, he writes, with the site providing no income despite nearly daily blogs.
 
But Shuler says that on the whole he is glad he stood up for his and others' rights with his blog, which is named Legal Schnauzer in honor of Murphy, at right, his now-deceased canine companion during many investigations.
Roger Shuler and Murphy
His blog is often reprinted in national blog sites, is invaluable reading for the news-behind-the-news regarding law-related Deep South political controversies, particularly in Alabama. His first blog in 2007 was, Is "Your Honor" Really Honorable? It focused on a vital but often-ignored problem in law: an unfair judge, which Shuler believed he was experiencing regarding a dispute with his next-door neighbor.  The column illustrates his compelling personal touch.  We have swapped research tips on several major investigations, such as the story we jointly broke last December that Republican strategist Karl Rove was a political advisor to Sweden's governing party. Sweden took extraordinary measures to launch a manhunt for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for questioning in a sex case shortly after Rove called for Assange's death for revealing U.S. government secrets.
 
I read Shuler's blogs on other topics daily, and am linking them to my websites so others can benefit from his extraordinary skills and civic commitment. Today's, for example, reports what he describes as a recent threat to attack him in retribution for a column about former Gov. Bob Riley.  Shuler says that he's become used threats through the years, including against his dog, but this one stands out. Many other capable and dedicated bloggers are working around the nation. They include Glynn Wilson, publisher of the Locust-Fork News-Journal in Alabama and a pioneer in breaking revelations in 2007 regarding the Justice Department's frame-up of Siegelman.
 
But I'd like to focus in some depth on the remarkable story of my friend George Gombossy. His commitment deserves even more recognition than the New York Times coverage he received over his firing from the Courant as consumer affairs editor for trying to report that Connecticut's state attorney general's office was investigating consumer complaints against the paper's largest advertiser, Sleepy's, a large retailers of mattresses. Gombossy had been the longtime business editor at the paper where he had worked nearly four decades. So he was no cub reporter. He was a consumer advocate widely promoted by his state's largest newspaper in 2009 when he undertook what should have been a routine column about how officials were investigating complaints that Sleepy's was selling used mattresses as new. One complaint alleged that the purchaser obtained bedbugs via such a resold mattress. But the column displeased the paper's new management, who were installed by Sam Zell's management team after he acquired the parent Tribune Companies. Under the new set-up, the same executives from the Tribune's Fox News TV affiliated would run Connecticut's largest newspaper. The joint operation was possible only because of a waiver of cross-ownership rules that the Federal Communication Commission granted the Tribune in late 2008 just before the Bush Administration left office so that Zell could buy the properties. The waiver was highly controversial. Republicans voted 3-2, with Democrats predicting dire consequences for the public in concentrating so much media power in one owner. In Connecticut, the Tribune's properties also included the leading chain of alternative weekly papers in major cities.
 
George GombossyAs a personal matter, Gombossy likes to say he leans conservative after fleeing communist Hungary with his family in the 1950s, serving in Germany during the Vietnam War-era [Editor's note: We corrected our reporting error in describing his service here intiially] and generally approving free-market, pro-business policies in private during his long career.  But he sees no contradiction between conservatism and standing up for journalistic principles, especially involving a paper that was the nation's largest during the Revolutionary War and which has enjoyed an otherwise stellar history of achievement through generations of accomplished journalists. The Tribune and Courant executives dispute that they fired Gombossy to protect their advertising revenue. But they made the curious admission in court that they are under no legal obligation to tell readers the truth.
 
Meanwhile, Gombossy is pursuing precisely that reader mission both in pending litigation against the Courant and by making the advertiser-supported Watchdog a consumer advocate on both a regional and national scale.
 
As for Murdoch, his travails are being widely reported, and I''ll be brief here. First, I've long viewed him as a ruthless political wheeler-dealer whouses news organizations such as Fox News primarily to augment his wealth and power, not for journalistic purposes. On a lighter note, Murdoch used to own a condominum on the same floor in Washington where I live and where I served for years on the condo board. Murdoch rarely stayed there, and doubtless acuired it for political and business reasons.
 
His condo had a magnificent view of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Justice Department and National Archives similar to the view in the photo above of the Obama Inaugural from a nearby balcony. It used to strike me as ironic that Murdoch's elaborate renovations for his party palace intensely irritated U.S. Rep. Tillie Fowler (R-FL), his downstairs neighbor.  A powerful leader on the Armed Service Committee before her passing, Fowler repeatedly complained at our condo board meetings about noise from Murdoch's unit. In case it matters, your scribe moved to this locale in 1992 shortly after its construction when prices were more attuned to commoners than to press lords.
 
ERic HolderMore seriously, Murdoch and his financial empire are justifiably under intense investigation under both sides of the Atlantic. However, a key part of our Project's non-partisan mission is to raise questions about Murdoch's treatment and to urge our readers to keep an open mind. It troubles me, for example, that federal officials such as Attorney Gen. Eric Holder announced with great fanfare the beginning of an investigation against Murdoch -- but piously insist in other cases that they can have no comment because those matters "are under investigation." Similarly, evidence of phone hacking in the United Kingdom is not the same as solid evidence of similar conduct in the United States.  As a prediction, Murdoch still has many powerful friends and will doubtless mount a comeback as long as his health remains sound. He is not rally facing a funeral, and does not need help from the public. Instead, we in the public and media serves our own best interests in these dangerous times if all investigations, including his, are undertaken fairly.
 
So, let the games begin. But only under the kind of due process and fair-and-balanced commentary that we would each want for ourselves in a similar position -- and for our country at all times.


Gavel

 

Contact the author Andrew Kreig or comment

Below are significant articles that illustrate issues described above. See the full article by clicking the link.

Huffington Post

Arianna HuffingtonNational Press Club, Armstrong, Huffington see thousands more citizen journalists covering local news, Robert Webb, July 18, 2011. Video. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong and Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, described at a July 15 sell-out luncheon a media world embracing thousands more citizen journalists covering neighborhoods not only across America but also across the world. At the same time, they emphasized the continued key role of professional journalists.

Armstrong said that journalists should be more transparent to their readers. "We need to know what they believe, what are their religious views before they write," Armstrong said. "We need journalists who will go for the truth." Armstrong and Huffington also revealed that they agreed on the deal in which AOL bought Huffington Post for $315 million at halftime of this year's Super Bowl. (Press Club Photo by Al Teich.)

HuffPost TV, Arianna And AOL CEO Tim Armstrong Address The National Press Club (VIDEO), July 15, 2011. Arianna Huffington and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong appeared at the National Press Club on Friday to discuss journalism and where they see the business going in the future. Among other insights, Armstrong explained that in the current journalism landscape, "people aren't transparent about what they believe in before they write things, and that's something that we would like to see in the future is more transparency around journalists and what they believe in before stories get written." He also explained that it's important to create a product for an age in which many people consume news on smart phones rather than physical newspapers.

Huffington Post, Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows….$300 Million in Bush Military Contracts Awarded to Judge’s Private Company, Andrew Kreig, May 15, 2009. The Alabama federal judge who presided over the 2006 corruption trial of the state's former governor holds a grudge against the defendant for helping to expose the judge's own alleged corruption six years ago. Former Gov. Don Siegelman therefore deserves a new trial with an unbiased judge ─ not one whose privately owned company, Doss Aviation, has been enriched by the Bush administration's award of $300 million in contracts since 2006, making the judge millions in non-judicial income.

Huffington Post, Why the President ‘Stepped Out’ During His Inaugural Parade, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 21, 2009.

Alabama’s Legal Schnauzer

Legal Schnauzer, Did One GOP Thug Reveal Too Much About Himself In a Recent Threat? Roger Shuler, July 18, 2011.  Early on in the blogging game I realized that if you are going to present real journalism about legal and political corruption, you had better be prepared to receive threats. I've even had numerous ugly messages regarding Murphy, the late beloved miniature schnauzer for whom this blog is named. In my book, it's hard to go much lower than that. How did the most recent threat jump out in that crowd? The sender used some curious language. Here is what he said: “It is beyond any sense of humanity to write such a pathetic article. But you did get one thing right: PAYBACK IS HELL ....and yours is a ‘fait accompli.’”

Legal Schnauzer, Legal Schnauzer Reaches a Blogging Milestone, Roger, Shuler, July 15, 2011. We try not to spend much time tooting our own horn around here, but our little blog passed a milestone t he other day that might be worth noting. On June 16, Legal Schnauzer had its 1 millionth page view. What does that mean? I'm hardly an expert on blog analytics, so I really don't know. But it does seem to say that you can start a serious blog about legal and judicial corruption--a fairly complex, decidedly unsexy topic--and still attract an audience. That wasn't a given when I started this blog on June 3, 2007, with a post titled "Is 'Your Honor' Really Honorable?" At the time, I wasn't sure if anyone other than me and Mrs. Schnauzer would read it. And I still don't know that having 1 million page views over four years time--if my math is correct, we are averaging about 250,000 page views a year--is particularly special in the blogging world.

Legal Schnauzer, Is "Your Honor" Really Honorable? Roger Shuler, June 3, 2007.  Imagine you are at a baseball game. You have traveled about 200 miles to watch your team play a road game. In the top of the first inning, it seems to be a normal game. In the bottom of the first, things start getting strange. The home team's leadoff man swings and misses at three straight pitches. He begins to walk back to the dugout, but the home-plate umpire calls him back and tells him to get back in the batter's box. Your manager runs out of the dugout. "That's three strikes, he's out," the manager says. "He's not out till I say he's out," the umpire says. "If you say one more word, you're out of the game."  I saw a similar scene unfold in an Alabama courtroom. In fact, the "If you don't like how you're being treated . . . " quote came almost verbatim from the mouth of an Alabama judge. Only he ended it with ". . . you can get on I-65 and drive to Montgomery (home of Alabama's appellate courts)."  My research indicates that such scenes happen in courtrooms across the country on a regular basis. And my guess is that parties usually don't even know they are being cheated. This blog will show you how judges and attorneys conspire to cheat some people and favor others. And it will show you what you can do about it.

Connecticut Watchdog

CT WatchdogGeorge Gombossy is the editor & publisher of CtWatchdog.com. He is also a syndicated consumer columnist whose work appears weekly in the New Haven Register, New London Day, Norwalk Hour, Torrington Register Citizen, New Britain Herald, Bristol Press, Middletown Press, West Hartford News, Canton News, Avon News, Simsbury News, Granby News, and Internet site ValleyNewsNow.  He launched two similar website in Florida and Massachusetts (FlaWatchdog.com and MassWatchdog.com) and is seeking editors/partners for those sites. Gombossy launched CtWatchdog in August 2009 after he was fired from The Hartford Courant where he was the first investigative consumer columnist in the Courant’s history. He was fired as of Aug. 14 after refusing to “be nice” to major advertisers. For three years he served as the advocate for consumers at The Courant, following 12 years as its business editor. Working with thousands of readers who sent him complaints and tips, his Watchdog columns resulted in more than a dozen state investigations and improved customer service at CL&P and many other companies.George Gombossy

New York Times, Losing Job, Consumer Columnist Cries Foul, Stephanie Clifford, Aug. 17, 2009. The Hartford Courant and its former consumer columnist, George Gombossy, agree on one thing: that Mr. Gombossy was laid off this month. But was it because he would not stop unfavorable articles about advertisers, or because his job was simply eliminated? The disagreement addresses a delicate area in journalism. As ad revenue drops, publishing executives are willing to go far to keep advertisers happy, running front-page ads and ads that look like news articles. Mr. Gombossy, right, is claiming that Courant executives, under pressure from advertisers, did not want him to write critical reports about them, and fired him when he would not change his stance.

Murdoch Empire

Update: Reuters, Justice Department drops News Corp probe related to phone hacking, Staff report, Feb. 2, 2015. The United States Department of Justice has decided not to prosecute News Corp or its sister company Twenty-First Rupert MurdochCentury Fox after completing an investigation of scandals in Great Britain involving phone hacking and alleged bribery of public officials. The end of the probe, disclosed by News Corp in a regulatory filing on Monday, comes after the U.S. government spent years combing through thousands of e-mails from News Corp.'s servers. A U.S. law enforcement official confirmed to Reuters that the case, which included an investigation of possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, had been closed by the Justice Department. News Corp was notified about the decision on Jan. 28. The investigation was related to the 2011 phone hacking and bribery charges involving News Corp.'s British newspaper, the now-defunct News of the World. Journalists from News Corp.'s daily tabloid The Sun have also faced prosecution by British authorities. Rupert Murdoch controls both News Corp and Fox, which split into separate businesses in 2013.

OpEd News, What Rupert Murdoch Means For You Personally, Russ Baker, July 26, 2011. Rupert Murdoch has had a profound influence on the state of journalism today. Here are 12 "take-away" points that are being obscured in the daily rush of revelations, and the related specialized coverage (his wife's wardrobe and demeanor, the effect on his company's stock price, etc.): 1) He has transformed world politics for the worse...Click link to read more.

White House Chronicles, Murdoch is felled by a disease he once cured, Llewellyn King July 25, 2011.  In the 1960s, even to an old union man like myself, British newspaper unions had reached a point at which they were a threat not only to the newspaper industry, but also to the freedom of the press itself. It took someone as ruthless and sociopathic as the unions to find a way to break their hold. That man was Rupert Murdoch and he did it with outstanding courage, cheek and military-like planning. So there is a fine irony that the Murdoch’s News Corp. now stands accused of many of the sins of the unions he disciplined: sociopathic arrogance; a desire to control the news as well as cover it; and a thuggish corruption that reached into the highest levels of at least three British administrations, Thatcher, Blair and Cameron; and has brought low the world’s largest and most storied police force, the Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard.

Huffington Post, Sean Hoare Dead: News Of The World Hacking Whistleblower Found Dead In London, July 18, 2011. Sean Hoare, a former reporter for the News of the World who was the first to go on the record about Andy Coulson's alleged knowledge of the phone hacking there, has been found dead, according to the Guardian. He was found by police at his London home. Hoare was known to have problems with drugs and alcohol, and the police said that they were not treating the death as a suspicious one, though they did not reveal what caused Hoare to pass away. But it still comes as a grim coincidence during a period when the phone hacking scandal is escalating seemingly every day.

New York Times, British Police Arrest Rebekah Brooks in Phone Hacking, Alan Cowell and Ravi Somaiya, July 17, 2011. The British police on Sunday arrested Rebekah Brooks, the former chief of Rupert Murdoch’s media operations in Britain, according to a former associate at News International, the newspaper group at the heart of a phone-hacking scandal that is convulsing the Murdoch Rupert  Murdoch and wife Wendi empire, the British political elite and the police here. The timing, two days before a separate parliamentary inquiry into the crisis, drew a skeptical response from opposition lawmakers who said the arrest might inhibit Ms. Brooks’s ability or readiness to testify before the panel while she is the subject of police inquiries. David Wilson, a lawyer representing Ms. Brooks, said she “maintains her innocence, absolutely.”  The photo at left of Murdoch and his wife, Wendi, is courtesy of Wikipedia.  Born in China, she is not known to be especially active in his UK and U.S. operations. But his children, espcially his son, James, have held key posts at various times.

“The water is now lapping around the ankles of the Murdoch family,” said Chris Bryant, a Labour parliamentarian who has taken legal action against The News of the World because he suspects his phone has been hacked. On Sunday, for the second day in a row, News International placed full-page advertisements in major newspapers promising full cooperation with the police. “There are no excuses and should be no place to hide,” the advertisements said.

Huffington Post, Rebekah Brooks Arrested In Connection With Phone Hacking Scandal, Dina Rickman, July 17, 2011. Rebekah Brooks has been arrested, the Metropolitan Police confirmed on Sunday. The former News International chief executive went to a London police station by appointment and was arrested on suspicion of corruption and phone hacking. Brooks is the 10th person to be arrested in connection to the new investigation into allegations of phone hacking at the News of the World.

Guardian (United Kingdom), Murdoch's worst hours are yet to come, Matt Wells, July 15, 2011. No relationship is safe, no loyal bond strong enough for Rupert Murdoch who – looking more than the sum of his 80 years – is mounting a final battle to save the company he built from nothing. His decision to throw Les Hinton to the wolves is his most dramatic move yet. For more than 50 years, as a journalist and then an executive, Hinton loyally served the Murdoch empire from its roots in Australia to the height of its power in New York. Hinton was ditched because he was the crucial link between Murdoch's valuable US businesses and the tainted operation in Britain. He was at the helm of NI – the holding company for his UK newspapers including the News of the World and the Times – when it seemed that everyone who was in sniffing distance of a significant news story found their phones being hacked.

Washington Post, FBI opens inquiry after report that News Corp. tried to hack phones of 9/11 victims, Jerry Markon and David S. Hilzenrath, July 14, 2011. The FBI has opened a preliminary inquiry into allegations that News Corp. employees sought to hack into the phones of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and tried to bribe law enforcement officers for information, U.S. officials said Thursday. FBI agents are reviewing information on the phone-hacking scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s British media operations and trying to determine if U.S. laws were broken, the officials said. Murdoch is chairman and chief executive of News Corp., which is based in New York and has extensive U.S. operations.

Michael CollinsOpEd News, Is News Corp Finished? Senator Rockefeller Tells Feds to Investigate Fox Hacking of 9/11 Victims, Michael Collins, July 12, 2011. Jay Rockefeller raises the key question about Rupert Murdoch -- is he as big a monster over here as he is in the United Kingdom?  Did Murdoch's US operations behave like his UK operations. Good question. We know the answer.

Huffington Post, The Trouble With Rupert, Timothy Karr, July 11, 2011.  Beneath Murdoch's meltdown lies a bigger problem, and its one that's not confined to the United Kingdom. It plagues all consolidated news organizations that reach a certain size and stature, but especially News Corp: The problem of media that get too cozy with power.

Washington Post, Phone-hacking scandal is biggest PR disaster of Murdoch’s career, William Booth and Paul Farhi, July 7, 2011. Media baron Rupert Murdoch shuttered one of his signature British newspapers Thursday amid a spreading phone-hacking scandal that has damaged his reputation and threatened the globe-spanning conglomerate he has assembled over nearly six decades.  Murdoch’s News Corp. took the extraordinary step of announcing the closure of the News of the World, the company’s racy Sunday tabloid, in an attempt to stem the fallout from the newspaper’s prying into the voice-mail and cellphone accounts of hundreds of British citizens. The 168-year-old News of the World, the widest-read paper in the English-speaking world, has acknowledged that it hired “investigators” who hacked into the phone accounts of politicians, celebrities and ordinary Britons in an attempt to develop stories. The targets of the paper’s hacking apparently included the families of British troops killed in Afghanistan, victims of the 2005 London transit bombings and a 13-year-old missing girl who was later found dead.

AlterNet, Murdoch Named Architect of PATRIOT Act to Mop Up Eavesdropping/Phone-Hack Scandal, Adele M. Stan, July 6, 2011. A scandal involving phone-hacking by a right-wing newspaper tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is threatening the administration of British Prime Minister David Cameron. Now the scandal is boomeranging back to New York, engulfing the top executive at the largest-circulation newspaper in the United States, the Wall Street Journal. To clean up some of the mess, Murdoch has called upon the talents of former Bush administration Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh, whose views on privacy are enshrined in the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, and Joel Klein, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's union-bashing former schools chief, known for his phony claims of test-score gains.

Other Voices


Salon Unclaimed Territory, How the U.S. government uses its media servants to attack real journalism, Glenn Greenwald, July 15, 2011. This week, the truly intrepid investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill published in The Nation one of the most significant political exposés of the year.  Entitled "The CIA's Secret Sites in Somalia," the article documented that the CIA uses and effectively controls a secret prison in Mogadishu, where foreign nationals who are rendered off the streets of their countries (at the direction of the U.S.) are taken (along with Somali nationals) to be imprisoned with no due process and interrogated (by U.S. agents).  Despite the significance of this revelation -- or, more accurately, because of it -- the U.S. establishment media has almost entirely ignored this story.  Scahill thus far has given a grand total of two television interviews: on Democracy Now and Al Jazeera.  No major television news network -- including MSNBC -- has even mentioned his story.  Generally speaking, Republicans don't care that the worst abuses of the Bush era are continuing, and Democrats (who widely celebrated Dana Priest's 2006 Pulitzer Prize winning story about Bush's CIA black cites) don't want to hear that it's true.

Locust-Fork News-Journal, The Big Picture, Glynn Wilson, July 17, 2011.  “I just want some peace and quiet.” That’s what Ted Turner said to Ralph Nader in a conversation on C-SPAN about Nader’s recent book, Only the Super Rich Can Save Us. It was not the first or only time in my life when I agreed with Ted Turner. The guy is a genius. The problem is, until the world reaches some equilibrium of peace and prosperity, there is no rest. As I said in that first column when I first started this Website more than six years ago: “This thing called a blog will either save the world in this century as the newspapers did in he last — or this is where we will chronicle its demise.”