Is Rupert Murdoch's empire above the law?News Corp own a lot of media in the States and UK. This puts them in a 'Kingmaker' position. Politicians are forced to turn a blind eye to their invasive...

Is Rupert Murdoch's empire above the law?

News Corp own a lot of media in the States and UK. This puts them in a 'Kingmaker' position. Politicians are forced to turn a blind eye to their invasive and tacky journalism and infringements of privacy laws or face a campaign of black PR from their infamous 'dark arts' department.

But now a scandal is racing out of the UK and threatens to spill over into America. In the UK, News Corp journalists have been caught hacking voice mails, bank accounts, medical records and all manner of deeply private data. They hacked the Prime Minister's son's medical records and printed the findings. They hacked a murdered teenage girl's voicemail and deleted the messages. They hacked the parents of dead soldiers. They stole over 4000 peoples' private information.

Now it appears they have been doing the same sort of activities in the US, particularly to relatives of 9/11 victims and dead military personnel.

If it turns out that News Corp has been routinely breaking the most serious laws governing journalism, what should be done? What can be done?

Expert Answers
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator
THey have certainly acted as though they were immune to the laws of several countries, and certainly abandoned some very central ethical principles of journalism years ago, if they in fact adhered to them at all. The main question to me, however, is whether or not they are now being held accountable by authorities because they have come to light or because there is now public anger to mollify. Both the British and American governments have had cozy relationships with Murdoch's Newscorp, because they knew how important they were for reaching specific segments of their popular bases. The simple answer is no they are not, while the complex one is that they, and probably many other corporations and media outlets actually are much of the time.
scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As Post 2 acknowledges, Rupert Murdoch would have been able to flee to a remote location and thrive if he were above the law. Instead, he has gone to England and dealt with the problems. We'll have to see how much he knew about what was going on in some of his news organizations, but repercussions for these hacking incidents have already begun to take place.

While those in charge of vast "empires" do sometimes seem to be able to buy their way out of trouble, more often than not, they face justice. Consider Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame--while he does not seem liable right now for publishing classified information, it does appear that he will face justice if found guilty of the rape charge against him.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

He thought so - or maybe he didn't think at all, and that's why the "empire" is in the situation it now faces. Certainly, someone (or several someones) felt that normal procedures in respect to gathering information, respecting the privacy of news sources, verifying information prior to publication, and some other supposedly standard practices were not necessary due to the extent and impact of their network. I wonder if the lessons that are going to come out during the investigation and prosecution of the Murdoch incidents will be taken to heart by others trying to stretch the boundaries of the media?

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If they were above the law, they would not be in the sort of trouble they are now in.  The fact that they are not above the law can be seen in how hard Murdoch is trying to ensure that damage is controlled.  If they were above the law, he would not have closed down the News of the World.  If they were above the law, he would have continued to defy the calls for him to testify before Parliament.  By closing the paper and agreeing to testify, Murdoch is showing that he takes seriously the threat to his "empire."  If he were above the law, he would feel no such threat.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While it is tempting to think that money trumps everything and that some people are above the law, there are actually many very public/ very famous examples of the opposite being true.  Look at the political personalities like Wiener, or Hollywood celebrity Lindsay Lohan, or business man Bernie Maddof to name just a few. Murdoch may be a powerful man, but his individual employees will be investigated for their crimes.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
No one is literally above the law, but a lot of money helps you buy yourself out of legal problems. People with money think they can buy their way out of their problems with enough lawyers, so they act like they are above the law. Eventually, it all catches up to them.
truthseekah | Student

I seriously doubt anything will come about as far as a prosecution goes.  You may have a subordinate patsy take the fall is anything goes to trial, IMHO.

truthseekah | Student

Maybe they thought they were above the law.  Being that Murdock is in control of a lot of information, I'm sure there are many in high places who covet his control of the media, and he definitely has a lot of control with his massive conglomerate of media outlets.