“My View” from the Nov. 29, 2012, edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
As Monty Python used to say, “And now for something completely different.”
Not something about the fiscal cliff or the Benghazi kerfuffle. Let’s talk British press scandals, or more pointedly, the scope of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire’s breach of trust, integrity and the law.
Today, Lord Justice Leveson released his report detailing the scope and character of what he discovered in his examination of the British media, especially focused, of course, on the enterprises owned by Rupert Murdoch that have been implicated in the scandals that have erupted over the past several years. To say it is not a pretty picture is to state the obvious.
Here are some of the figures detailed in the report:
With respect to interception of mobile phone messages, 17 arrests have been made;
With respect to payments to public officials, 52 arrests have been made, including 27 journalists;
With respect to data hacking and improper access to personal computer records,17 arrests have been made;
There were over 800 known victims of phone hacking by British media interests, and until recently none of this had been discovered by the sham internal investigations conducted by officers of Murdoch’s own companies nor those investigations conducted by British law enforcement.
Based on these findings, it is safe to say that dangerous and highly politicized corruption encompassed the media, law enforcement and the top ranks of British politics.
There was a real-life conspiracy that sacrificed the civil rights of citizens, sacrificed the political integrity of the government and sacrificed any semblance of journalistic integrity among the media. If made the basis of a movie, it would be both tawdry and unbelievable.
Beyond the rank illegality and rampant corruption, the report concludes that there was also a reckless disregard for accuracy within the media.
The report says, and I quote, “In an industry that purports to inform, all misinformation should be a matter of concern — and distortion far more so. Where that strays into sustained misrepresentation of groups in society, hidden conflicts of interest and irresponsible science scares, the risk to the public interest is obvious.”
My conclusion: The Murdoch approach to news has been authoritatively unmasked.
We all saw it on Fox throughout the past political season; we’ve all seen it for years in his newspapers. And now Lord Justice Leveson has detailed it in his inquiry for all to see as well.
Beyond the scathing critique of Murdoch’s news organizations’ ethics in Britain, there is now a huge question mark that hangs over his empire here in the United States: When can we expect his interests here in the U.S. to be unmasked in the same fashion?
At this point, it’s beyond the proper thing to do. Simply put: It is necessary.
That’s “My View.”