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Sunday, den 15. July 2012

From the July 14 edition of Sirius XM’s  Media Matters Radio : Previously: Current’s Spitzer: LIBOR Story “Hasn’t Yet Broken Through To The Mainstream Media.

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Wednesday, den 16. May 2012

A May 15 New York Times article reported that Rebekah Brooks, a former executive in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., will be prosecuted on various charges stemming from the phone hacking scandal surrounding News Corp. Brooks was the former CEO of News Corp.’s British newspaper division, News International. From The New York Times : Once among the most powerful figures in the British media, with close contacts stretching from her boss, Rupert Murdoch, to her friend, David Cameron, Rebekah Brooks, the former head of Mr. Murdoch’s British newspaper empire, was told by prosecutors on Tuesday that she, her husband and four others will face charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice in the hacking scandal that has burrowed into public life here. It was the first time the charges have been formulated since police reopened inquiries into the affair in January 2011 and intensified their questioning six months later. The development brought the scandal to a watershed between criminal investigations, which have resulted in around 50 people being arrested and then set free on bail, and the prospect of trial before robed judges. The six were accused variously of concealing documents, computers and archive material from officers investigating the scandal last July. Previously: PHONE HACKS: A Guide To The News Corp. Scandal Murdoch Admits Phone Hacking ”Cover-Up” British Panel: Murdoch Unfit To Lead Media Empire

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Thursday, den 26. April 2012

During his second day of testimony at a  parliamentary hearing  on the phone hacking scandal, Rupert Murdoch apologized for the scandal, and, according to The New York Times,  “coupled his apology with suggestions that there had been what he called a cover-up ‘from within The News of the World’ to hide the extent of the phone hacking scandal.” From  The New York Times :  After a day of testimony at a British judicial inquiry over his ties, friendships and disputes with British politicians, Rupert Murdoch returned to the witness stand on Thursday, saying he apologized for failing to take measures to avert the hacking scandal that has convulsed his media outpost here. “I also have to say that I failed,” Mr. Murdoch told the so-called Leveson inquiry. “I am very sorry about it.” He said that he had not paid adequate attention to the newspaper at the center of the scandal, The News of the World tabloid, which Mr. Murdoch closed in July as the affair widened. “It was an omission by me,” he said, adding that he wished to apologize “to a lot of people, including all the innocent people” at The News of the World, a Sunday tabloid, “who lost their jobs.” Casting himself as a victim, Mr. Murdoch coupled his apology with suggestions that there had been what he called a cover-up “from within The News of the World” to hide the extent of the phone hacking scandal. And, like James Murdoch on Tuesday, he seemed to blame subordinates for not alerting him to the practices being used at the newspaper to secure its scoops.  Bloomberg recently reported that there were likely more than 1,000 victims of the News of the World ‘s phone hacking. On Wednesday, Murdoch testified that he doesn’t “believe in using hacking, in using private detectives or whatever, that’s a lazy way of reporters not doing their job. But I think it is fair when people have themselves held up as iconic figures or great actors that they be looked at.” Also on Wednesday, an aide to British culture secretary Jeremy Hunt submitted his resignation after the revelation on Tuesday of close communications between Hunt’s office and James Murdoch.

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Saturday, den 26. November 2011

This year has already witnessed multiple events that break climate records: the drought in East Africa , the worst drought in Texas’ recorded history , and record breaking storms and floods in the US south . Those events, anticipated by climatologists decades ago, should remind us that those who persecute and harass scientists, or mendaciously misrepresent their actions and findings, have no sense of decency. by Stephan Lewandowsky, in a Conversation cross-post Emails from the University of East An glia’s Climatic Research Unit have once again been hacked and released on the internet. The timing is similar to the “climategate” scandal of 2009, with emails published just before an important UN climate conference. Does this mean the science is in doubt? Quite the opposite, says Stephan Lewandowsky. An ambulance pulls up behind you. You know it’s an ambulance because you can read AMBULANCE in your rear view mirror. But you can also read it when you look at the vehicle directly; because the human visual system has the ability to quickly correct complete inversions or left-right reversals of letters. In fact, a complete inversion is easier to read than letters that are rotated only partially. This human ability to process complete inversions more quickly than just partial distortions, alas, lends itself to exploitation by ruthless propagandists who seek to create a chimerical world in which up is down, left is right, and good is smeared as evil. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the netherworld of attacks on climate scientists. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE OR COMMENT Remember “climategate” ? The illegal hack of personal emails released just before the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 that some columnists pronounced to be the (approximately 132nd) “final nail in the coffin” of global warming? Remember the “errors” in the IPCC’s 2007 report? “Amazongate” , “Himalayagate” , and so on? What has happened to “climategate”? What’s happened is this. First, the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee exonerated the scientist at the centre of the tempest , Professor Phil Jones , finding he has “no case to answer” and that his reputation “remains intact.” Then Lord Oxburgh (former chairman of Shell-UK) and his panel likewise exonerated the researchers , finding their “work has been carried out with integrity, and that allegations of deliberate misrepresentation” are “not valid.” Another enquiry, chaired by Sir Muir Russell , found the scientists’ “rigour and honesty” to be beyond doubt. Two enquiries by his university also cleared Professor Michael Mann – who presented the first of now innumerable “hockey stick” graphs – of all allegations. Ultimately the (conservative) UK Government concluded “the information contained in the illegally-disclosed emails does not provide any evidence to discredit … anthropogenic climate change.” Not one, not two, but by now nine vindications . This comes as no surprise to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the distinction between private chat and public actions. And what has happened to the IPCC “Whatevergates”? What’s happened is this. First, the Sunday Times apologised and retracted its “Amazongate” story . There is no “Amazongate”; there is only the Amazon rainforest threatened by climate change. Then the Dutch government accepted responsibility for erroneously informing the IPCC that 55% of the Netherlands are below sea level. In fact only 26% are at risk of flooding because they are below sea level, whereas the other 29% are, err, at risk of flooding from rivers. And about a year after “climategate” broke, the BBC finally apologised to the University of East Anglia for its misleading coverage of the “climategate” pseudo-scandal. All that’s left of the “Whatevergates”, therefore, is red-faced apologies and one indubitable IPCC error: the incorrect projection of the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers to 2035 , as opposed to the more likely 2350. This error was drawn to the public’s attention by, wait for it, an IPCC author. Can we now forget about “gate” in connection with “climate”? No. Because there are too many real climategates that must not escape attention. First, there was another batch of private emails posted by the Competitive Enterprise Institute , a “think” tank notorious even by American standards. Those emails — yes, a second hack — revealed the real climategate by being truthful, with one scientist stating: “Those who deny the biophysical facts of the world would deny … gravity” and “we’re not in a gentlepersons’ debate, we’re in a street fight against … merciless enemies. Colleagues … are getting threatened with prosecution by … [US Senator James M.] Inhofe.” That is the second real climategate: the McCarthyite attempts by Senator Inhofe to criminalise climate scientists — attempts to criminalise those who, 35 years ago, predicted the temperature rise by century’s end to within 1/10th of a degree. This is no isolated incident: Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, has launched several frivolous lawsuits — despite losing an earlier one — against the University of Virginia in what the Washington Post called a “war on the freedom of academic inquiry” “. And Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman evoked Pastor Niemoeller’s cry against the erosion of humanity under the Nazis: “First, they came for the climate scientists…” . The real climategate involves active censorship within NASA by Bush appointees, which the agency’s Inspector General later found to have “reduced, marginalized, or mischaracterized climate change science” . The real climategate involves Bush White House staff replacing assessments of the National Academy of Sciences with a discredited paper by two individuals with no expertise in climatology. This paper, funded by the American Petroleum Institute, was so flawed its appearance in a peer-reviewed journal led to the resignation in protest by three editors and the publisher’s unprecedented acknowledgement of mishandling . Those are not merely historical episodes because the real climategate encompasses the ongoing complicity of some media organs. In Canada, the real media climategate involves the ongoing list of defamatory articles by the “National Post.” The tabloid is finally being sued by Professor Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria. In Australia, the real media climategate involves the national daily newspaper , whose misrepresentations of science are legendary and, sadly ongoing. Those real climategates are the tip of an iceberg of venality enveloping anti-science interests and their enablers. And just a few hours ago, another illegal release of personal emails among scientists was dumped on to the world in the lead-up to the next climate conference in Durban . First Copenhagen, now Durban. When the science is so rock solid that it can no longer be reasonably doubted, all that is left is to steal private correspondence in a desperate attempt to disparage those who are trying to protect the world from the risks it is facing. Joseph Welch famously brought down Joe McCarthy with a simple question : “Have you no sense of decency?” This year has already witnessed multiple events that break climate records: the drought in East Africa , the worst drought in Texas’ recorded history , and record breaking storms and floods in the US south . Those events, anticipated by climatologists decades ago, should remind us that those who persecute and harass scientists, or mendaciously misrepresent their actions and findings, have no sense of decency. That is the real climategate. — Stephan Lewandowsky is a cognitive scientist at the University of Western Australia whose research examines people’s memory and decision making, with particular emphasis on how people respond to corrections of misinformation. This piece was originally published at The Conversation website.

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Saturday, den 5. November 2011

The News Corp. phone hacking scandal spread to another publication today as police in the U.K. arrested a reporter for the Sun newspaper , the country’s largest circulation daily, on charges of bribing police officers. This latest development is a major blow to News Corp., which has maintained that illegal activity was restricted to the now-defunct News of the World. Meanwhile, police announced today that they believe almost 5,800 people were targeted in the company’s phone hacking operations — 2,000 more than originally thought.

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Friday, den 9. September 2011

Lamenting the departure of famed Wall Street Journal news editor Alix Freedman, who announced this week she is going to work for Reuters,  CJR’s Dean Starkman offers up a stark assessment of the once-great newspaper , and what Rupert Murdoch has done to the daily since he purchased it in 2007: Established professionals have defected, lately in droves. Dodgy political tampering began showing up in the news pages. Stories were shortened and productivity demands increased, part of the general hamsterization of the news media , a concept the FCC picked up on in its big study in June. The number of Page One “leders,” the in-depth, long-form stories that were the paper’s hallmark, was halved, while the elite Page One operation was itself deconstructed. Generally speaking, speed and brevity are in , depth and narrative, out. This is to say nothing of the reputational blows it has suffered as part of the News Corp. empire. Indeed, a recent low point came in the wake of News Corp.’s British hacking scandal and how for nearly a week the Journal refused to report on the fact that its publisher, Les Hinton, was a central player in the hacking scandal. Making matters worse, the Journal published an angry   and   ill-advised editorial that backed both Hinton and Murdoch, as well as lashed out wildly at the CEO’s critics. But just in terms of being an elite news gathering organization, Starkman suggests that under Murdoch’s leadership the Journal, with defections like Freedman’s , is now “fast approaching” its “point of no return.” 

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Tuesday, den 16. August 2011

With the news today that a former News of the World reporter — who was jailed and fired over phone hacking — wrote a letter several years ago to top News Corp. executives claiming phone hacking was “widely discussed” at the paper, the coverage of the scandal by Rupert Murdoch’s U.S. media properties over the past several weeks seems increasingly embarrassing. Fox News and The Wall Street Journal were slow to pick up the story — which exploded in early July — and often clumsy and defiant when they did .

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Monday, den 15. August 2011

Faced with allegations that its employees had hacked into a competitor’s password-protected website and stolen proprietary information, a News Corp. marketing firm responded by launching a woefully inadequate internal investigation that “failed to perform any” of the “basic steps” necessary to identify the culprits, according to forensic expert hired by the competing competing company. The inept U.S. inquiry seems to mirror the inept inquiry News Corp. launched in the wake of British phone-hacking allegations in 2007. Claims of computer hacking in the United States continue to haunt Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., coming as they do in the wake of the unraveling phone-hacking scandal; a scandal the chairman is desperate to keep out of the American arena. However, any suggestion Murdoch’s company responded to stateside computer hacking claims with an incompetent investigation that covered up wrongdoing would likely be of interest to U.S. investigators currently reviewing News Corp.’s business practices.     This Murdoch headache has been a decade in the making.  In 1996, a New Jersey start-up company, Floorgraphics (FGI), was created to sell large advertising decals placed on the floors of grocery stores. In 1999, FGI’s founders  met with Paul Carlucci, CEO of News America Marketing, an in-store advertising division of News Corp. At lunch, after FGI founders rebuffed Carlucci’s offer to buy the company, Murdoch’s man allegedly threatened to “ destroy ” FGI. Years later, FGI executives discovered the company’s’ secure website had been broken into nearly a dozen times in a three-month period and confidential information had been obtained. They alleged Murdoch’s marketing company was spreading lies about FGI and using its proprietary information to steal away clients. After failing to convince   Chris Christie’s team at the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s office to pursue the hacking charges, FGI filed a civil lawsuit . In preparation of the trial, FGI hired forensic examiner Luke Cats to review the internal investigation News Corp. conducted to find out who the hackers were. Cats’ report concluded News Corp.’s investigation was completely lacking. Bloomberg News reported on Cats’ report last month. Here’s why the report now may be of added significance: In the wake of the British phone-hacking scandal, federal investigators are taking a broad look of News Corp.’s practices in the United States and trying to determine if there is a larger pattern of corporate corruption. The FGI case may indicate there is a streak of criminality within News Corp., and that breaking the law in order to obtain crucial information was not restricted to tabloid reporters hacking voice mails in Britain.

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Thursday, den 28. July 2011

Amidst the turbulent News Corp. phone-hacking scandal, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal received a welcomed pat on the back when the newspaper’s Special Committee, tasked with protecting the daily’s editorial integrity, announced Monday  that the Journal had not been implicated in the scandal, and that Murdoch’s newspaper integrity remains in tact. The committee toasted the Journal’s staff full of “talented, experienced, principled people” and assured readers the paper was in no way associated with the “the journalistic rot on sad display in the U.K.” Have there been any credible claims that reporters at the Wall Street Journal hacked phones or otherwise broke the law in pursuit of stories? Certainly not that I’ve seen. So in that regard, the committee’s findings were not surprising, or even newsworthy. (It would be shocking to think anyone at the newspaper had been involved in hacking.) A more compelling point facing the Journal though , is that when confronted with its first real test of having to cover Murdoch and his company as part of a big, breaking news scandal, the Journal failed in very important ways. Namely, it failed for an entire week to report on the central role that its publisher, Les Hinton, played in the British hacking scandal. (He was ultimately forced to resign.) And then the Journal’s opinion pages were turned into a misguided Murdoch cheering section.  On those two key points however, the Special Committee remains oddly nonjudgmental.   Also troubling is that the committee, deep into its public statement, concedes the Journal was guilty of key journalism transgression while covering the News Corp., yet fails to explain who was responsible for those failures, or how the paper will make sure they don’t happen again in the Murdoch era. 

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Thursday, den 28. July 2011

The unfolding News Corp. hacking scandal is not just about a tabloid allegedly engaging in unethical and illegal behavior, but also about how widespread that behavior was apparently allowed to become within the company. Other News Corp. newspapers have been touched by the News of the World hacking scandal , and there are questions as to whether very senior executives in the company — like James Murdoch — participated in covering up the company’s misdeeds. The DOJ is also reportedly investigating years-old allegations that a News Corp. advertising company hacked into a competitor’s computer system. For close observers of corporate governance, the fact that News Corp. could let a scandal like this one grow so out of control wasn’t a surprise at all. In the midst of countless stories about bribery and hacking, several corporate governance experts have said that this scandal was predictable.

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Monday, den 25. July 2011

The British hacking scandal and the U.S. federal debt crisis are revealing who really governs these two countries. Read More… More on Republicans

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