July 13, 2011

"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."

Eliot Spitzer, writing in Slate, thinks the Murdoch scandal (although it's occurring in the UK) is "an opportunity for the Justice Department to show it can flex its muscles at the right moment."

71 comments:

Michael said...

This quote is so rich: "... this is not actually an investigation of the media, but an investigation of criminal acts undertaken by those masquerading as members of the media."

You can bet that he does not believe the NYT is "masquerading" but you can also bet that he would love to see this standard apply against the new media of bloggers or typists of any sort who weighed in against the liberal establishment.

Mark O said...

Well, are the suspects white? OK, then, let's get them.

Fred4Pres said...

Eilot Spitzer needs to STFU.

And I am glad he got cancelled.

EDH said...

This is Eliot Spitzer interviewing for a gig on MSNBC.

His CNN non-partisan mask shall fall.

ndspinelli said...

The sharks and shysters smell blood in the water.

Kirk Parker said...

Once a prosecutor, always a tyrant?

Drew said...

"an opportunity for the Justice Department to show it can flex its muscles at the right moment."

Specifically, the Eric Holder Justice Department. Almost makes me want to abolish the DOJ, anarchy be damned.

rick said...

"it can flex its muscles at the right moment."

Client #9 has only one muscle that he flexed and he resigned because of it.

traditionalguy said...

This is rich. Spitzer wants to see the Government investigate the Government's Media.

Heck, the Government cannot investigate itself honestly. That has been true since creation.

Of course only Fox News and Rush Limbaugh will be "Under Federal investigation for crimes" forever.

AJ Lynch said...

It's fun to watch CNN MSNBC etc reporting on this "scandal" as if American viewers give a frig about News of The World which, to me, sounds like that rag that is always reporting on alien abductions, alien impregnations, etc,

But, of course, in the librul full of crop circles, Rupert Murdock is the devil.

Scott M said...

is "an opportunity for the Justice Department to show it can flex its muscles at the right moment."

I'm not sure anyone in this administration can walk and chew gum at the same time. Currently, the DOJ is wrapped up fending off a mountain scandal involving the deaths of quite a few people. John # 9 would do well to remember that.

Scott M said...

mountain = mounting (but hell, mountain almost works too when you think about it)

Freeman Hunt said...

How do we have jurisdiction in the UK?

Henry said...

The First Amendment obviously applies a little more broadly than "the media."

Spitzer's formulation is very odd and ridiculously unhelpful. It is totally appropriate for criminal acts be prosecuted against members of the media, whether they are masquerading or not. Being on a media payroll does not exempt anyone from the law.

What is interesting about Spitzer's analysis isn't his banal suggestion that criminal acts be prosecuted but that the U.S. government should revoke News Corps' FCC license. Here is the first amendment concern. Does the government's regulatory control of the airwaves trump the first amendment?

Spitzer says it does because of the Communications Act. But the Communications Act isn't the constitution. Maybe it's the Communications Act -- the granting of the government of some vague responsibility to "require that the licensee abide by the law and serve the public interest" -- that deserves to be struck down.

Ty Bowen said...

I'm still concerned and flabbergasted about the bribing portion of the scandal. It only seems to get a sentence or two mention in every other article. But its a MUCH more serious crime in my opinion. Police officers/secret service members accepting bribes? Why is that not the head line being splashed about? That is heinous and affects the very foundation of the rule of law. Its like a scientist making up data. Those professionals should be fired, ostracized, and made an example of. But all I keep hearing about is how some journalists are alleged to have hacked into some voicemail accounts. Sleazy and illegal, yes, but not even close to the problem of police men taking bribes.

chuckR said...

How do we have jurisdiction in the UK?

Well, the Dems have a recession that won't end and in GunWalker their own scandal of at least Iran Contra proportions. They are out of other people's money for bread and circuses, so another diversion is necessary. And Rockfeller calls for hearings.
Standing? We don't need no steekin' standing.

Roger J. said...

Alpha Liberal will be creaming in his jeans over this pronunciamento

Looks to me like a brit problem--meanwhile back at the ranch...gunnerunner and fast and furious....

Joe said...

Henry is such a silly person; the constitution created congress, therefore anything congress does is constitutional.

YoungHegelian said...

NPR is just going whole hog on reporting the UK phone hacks scandal, taking all sorts of glee in Murdock's pain.

But here's what's unsaid: Are we to presume that only Murdock's right-wing minions purchased those cell phone numbers from the police & secret service? That all the lefties were just too pure for that sort of thing?

If an investigation finds that the Guardian purchased numbers, will NPR and its ilk cheer its shutdown too?

I know I will.

bgates said...

How do we have jurisdiction in the UK?

Commerce Clause. Seriously. "[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;" - the decision by a British subject to buy (or not buy!) a copy of News of the World impacts his ability to purchase an American product, which means it falls under the legitimate and Constitutional (albeit totalitarian) authority of the United States.

The Drill SGT said...

Freeman Hunt said...
How do we have jurisdiction in the UK?


It will be a fishing expedition to see if any illegal acts were:
1. performed by US persons, or
2. on use soil
3. or against US persons

note that DoJ doesn't care that the NYT violates Title 18 WRT leaking/hacking/publishing of National Security info all the time

edutcher said...

Spitzer is looking to do a double with Nancy Grace.

Roger J. said...

Alpha Liberal will be creaming in his jeans over this pronunciamento

He's been jumping up and down for how many days yelling, "Mommy! Mommy! Over here!"

Looks to me like a brit problem--meanwhile back at the ranch...gunnerunner and fast and furious....

Don't forget Castaway.

Carol_Herman said...

Murdoch's News Corporation earned $25-billion in profits last year. And, claimed no taxes. But $4-5 billion in losses.

He's also pulled out of the BskyB deal. Which means? It could mean with all the politicians flopping over themselves ... that the money that would have been earned by investors will go South?

The saud's are one of the biggest holders of the stock ... so where's the downside?

While we'd have no news business at all if there weren't ways of getting behind-the-scenes to gather information.

Murdoch's way is "old hat" now. Since everybody has access to the Internet. And, posts the videos they take, on line.

If you want my opinion? The politicians would love to destroy free speech.

While BEFORE the internet there was no paper trail on cash pay-outs.

Be careful for what you wish for.

Just as a side note. Since the NY Post is one of Murdoch's papers, all the leaks in the DSK case have gone dry.

Chris said...

This is about Fox News, right?

Because a British tabloid newspaper did shady and illegal things (in Britain) we can revoke Fox News' FCC license, and take them off the air!

We'll pay lip service to the First Amendment, natch, but that's what this is about, isn't it?

sorepaw said...
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The Crack Emcee said...

Eilot Spitzer?

Bwahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!

Hockey Bum said...

Eliot who?

William said...

Can you show me anywhere in the Constitution or even the Federalist Papers where any of the founding fathers said that Fox News was covered by the First Amendment? You cannot. Constitutional niceties do not apply to Fox News. The important thing is to shut it down.

AllenS said...

At one time, Eliot Spitzer was Client Number 9. It's been all down hill since then.

Phil 3:14 said...

Setting aside the whole News of the World affair and Mr. Murdoch, I must ask

When will Eliot Spitzer go away?

Apparently this didn't do it.

And now, apparently this hasn't done it.

Eliot Spitzer is the thinking man's Rod Blagojevich

Phil 3:14 said...

This was my look as I read this piece

Scott M said...

The important thing is to shut it down.

Along with MS-NBC, NPR, CNN, ABC News, NBC News, and CBS News?

garage mahal said...

Makes you wonder how many phones were hacked in the U.S.

SunnyJ said...

@CHRIS...agreed that is what this is all about.

See Garage's entry, making the leap to the US/FOX connection.

We don't have to ask that question, we know it as the Patriot Act and NYT's national security game. Done and done.

Steve in Philly said...

Under the Commerce Clause Kathleen Sebelius can require all U.K. conservatives to purchase $30 Billion worth of American health insurance or lose all licenses.

damikesc said...

So, when the media publishes stolen documents --- Spitzer supports attacking them criminally?

AJ Lynch said...

If you never change your password on your phone and someone listens to your voicemails, is that hacking or is it just stupidity?

Seems to me the phone companies who assign the same password to every phone they sell is at at fault too.

reader_iam said...

If there's evidence of phone hacking in the U.S. by News Corp outlets in the U.S., let's see it. Otherwise, I'm seeing overreach on that account, so far.

As noted, News Corp has withdrawn its bid to acquire BSkyB (it already owns about 40% of it).

It'll be interesting to see what comes next.

Coketown said...

Spitzer sounds absolutely manic in that piece. Exaggeration, speculation, and innuendo don't make for decent analysis. I'm not seeing how a scandal at one of News Corps' smallest operations is making "Murdoch's empire fall apart."

But we're dealing with News Corp here, so all we're going to get from our media is exaggeration, speculation, and innuendo.

Roman said...

How is it that Client #9 has any credibility about anything? Sex with hookers weaing socks, maybe, investigatins, NO.

Kev said...

(the other kev)

Sorry, Client Nine, the DoJ is too busy setting up murders right now. Maybe later.

David said...

Role Model.

And Exhibit A for the fact that academic smarts do not in themselves qualify you for anything.

Kirk Parker said...

"If you never change your password on your phone and someone listens to your voicemails, is that hacking..."

Let's not quibble about terminology, it's still unauthorized access.

Methadras said...

#9 needs to fade away into obscurity and keep his legal opinions to himself. He has ZERO credibility and his needs to seek affirmation by writing this crap as a means to get that credibility from other news organizations only shows how base these people are. Wither and die #9.

mariner said...

Spitzer is Client 9 From Outer Space.

AJ Lynch said...

Kirk:
It's stupidity too. Like leaving your bike unlocked outside your office or school and being shocked when it is stolen.

Kev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
josephmcnulty said...

This "scandal" is really a way for critics to go after Murdock and stop his bid to take over the British cable channel. What does the totally predictable misconduct of staff at various tabloids (surely, they don't think they are going to find incriminating memos with Murdock's signature on them!) have to do with whether News Corporation should be allowed to acquire a majority stake in a cable channel? This is just a "scandal" to fool the publlc (which was the market for the misconduct!) and arouse the politicians (who manipulated and on occasion benefited from the misconduct)to embarass Murdock and stop the acquisition -- in effect, an indirect attack on Fox and the Murdock empire.

josephmcnulty said...

This "scandal" is really a way for critics to go after Murdock and stop his bid to take over the British cable channel. What does the totally predictable misconduct of staff at various tabloids (surely, they don't think they are going to find incriminating memos with Murdock's signature on them!) have to do with whether News Corporation should be allowed to acquire a majority stake in a cable channel? This is just a "scandal" to fool the publlc (which was the market for the misconduct!) and arouse the politicians (who manipulated and on occasion benefited from the misconduct)to embarass Murdock and stop the acquisition -- in effect, an indirect attack on Fox and the Murdock empire.

damikesc said...

Seems to me the phone companies who assign the same password to every phone they sell is at at fault too.

Speaking for my employer, only time we set a password for a customer is if they forgot one and they ask us to reset it. We require them to set up their password initially. We then tell them how to change it to something else.

Jack said...

In 1961, Westinghouse and GE were found guilty of criminal violations of the antitrust laws and a significant number of top executives at both companies received prison sentences for bid rigging amongst other things.

Both Westinghouse and GE were licensees of AM, FM and TV stations at the time.

The FCC, as I recall, didn't even find a hearing on license qualifications issues was required, but rather concluded that since the licenses where held by a different corporate entity than the guilty manufacturing entities, the qualifications of the licensees was not at issue.

In the history of FCC license litigation, I can think of only one TV station owned by a significant corporation that lost its license - WHDH in Boston.

Absent far more than has been presently disclosed, an FCC revocation or renewal hearing of the Fox TV station licenses would be a blatant example of the present Administration's Chicago style politics.

Jack

lewsar said...

Spitzer is Client 9 From Outer Space.

the winner!

txrxqa said...

Because a British tabloid newspaper did shady and illegal things (in Britain) we can revoke Fox News' FCC license ..."

AS IF; you're firing blanks into the air on that item there son ...


Licenses are issued to/for BROADCAST STATIONS that make use of public airwaves ...

(Is this a 'law' blog or not?)

Oh, must be that 'FCC law' is another thing entirely eh?

.

txrxqa said...

Carol_Herman said...

"Murdoch's News Corporation earned $25-billion in profits last year. And, claimed no taxes. But $4-5 billion in losses."

Doing the math ... only 20 B profit then?

.

txrxqa said...

reader_iam said...

"If there's evidence of phone hacking in the U.S. by [anybody] ..."

I would be surprised.

Spoken/written by a former Cellular Engineer on this end ...

Kevin Mitnick, the most notorious hacker ever, made use of HUMAN intel (intel gleaned by and from humans; passwords, access to facilities, etc) as the key to his success ... the phone hacking was secondary ...

It's those bribes of PO's and others with the info where intel was gathered/secured.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Mitnick

.

AJ Lynch said...

"And claimed no taxes"??

Carol what the heck are you trying to say? I try to never claim taxes either. Heh.

AJ Lynch said...

News Corp had $3.3 Billion in pre-tax income in the 12 mths ending 6/30/10 and paid $700 Million in income taxes so it netted after tax about $2.5 Billion which was about 8% of its sales.

I bet the dinosaur media is jealous of those profit margins.

AJ Lynch said...

Murdock is a genius - his new show on now, The Five, on FNC includes two conservatives babes and the camera angles are excellent to show off their very nice gams. Sure beats looking at Wolf Blitzer!

Peter Friedman said...

"How do we have jurisdiction in the UK?"

You might think a law professor might have something to say about this. From http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa/

"The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended, 15 U.S.C. §§ 78dd-1, et seq. ("FCPA"), . . . prohibit the willful use of the mails or any means of instrumentality of interstate commerce corruptly in furtherance of any offer . . . of money or anything of value to any person, while knowing that all or a portion of such money or thing of value will be offered . . . directly or indirectly, to a foreign official to influence the foreign official in his or her official capacity, induce the foreign official to do or omit to do an act in violation of his or her lawful duty, or to secure any improper advantage in order to assist in obtaining or retaining business for or with, or directing business to, any person."

Revenant said...

Peter, could you explain why you think that act has a bearing on the "News of the World" scandal? Are you alleging that bribe money was sent to England from News Corp's headquarters in New York?

Phil 3:14 said...

Apparently despicable phone hacking is modus operandi for all the big publishing companies in UK

chr1 said...

NPR?

I heard when Stanley Ann needed a place to stay with little Barry...they put her up for a while at Radio Pacifica...just kidding.

They won't let their ideals go quietly as the public and electorate turns against Super Barry given the economy and his leadership ...though they do have middlebrow America schtick to fall back on...and Tavis Smiley...and anyone looking to huddle under the equality of outcome-social justice-jazz theory-feminist-white liberal guilt-a great nation deserves great art magic travelling circus.

Titus said...

If this was the NY Times I would be ok with an investigation.

Supposed 9/11 victims calls tapped-tough shit.

Peter Friedman said...

@ Revenant: money was paid to British police in furtherance of, among other things, the voice mail hacking. If policy or directions "in furtherance" of those acts came from within News Corp., yes, it seems that based on the language of the statute there may have been a violation of the FCPA.

A. Shmendrik said...

Spitzer has a hard-on for Murdoch because FNC blew away his bad act on CNN. Well, that and their coverage of his stint as "Client #9".

Even better than Spitzer wetting the bed is this matter of this. David Cay Johnston commits an epic error by misreading the financial statements of News Corporation and coming to a conclusion which simultaneously fits his prejudices and is 100% wrong.

Carol_Herman said...

Murdoch is smarter than all the rest. Let alone, smarter than Spitzer! Who couldn't even hold onto his TV gig.

So, let me start!

Murdoch knows what it's like when the press thinks it has a doozy of a story. And, politicians think they can eat our First Amendment for lunch.

However, Murdoch saw what his "news team" at The World looked like. And, he axed them all.

You think the paper's gone forever?

He still has all the printing presses, and whatnot in Wapping. Call me, when he puts this on the auction block.

He'll find a time to start this one up, again. Maybe, a Christmas Surprise? A headline that will read "Dear Santa" ???

Don't forget I don't to future-telling as well as just betting two-bucks on a horse.

As to BskyB ... first of all, Murdock is sitting on something like $11-billion in CASH. He can spend it any way he wants.

BskyB ... had better days. It's stock had risen closer to $1,000-pounds a pop. But it slid. And, he offered $700-pounds for each share. To own more than he's got. Because he wanted it all.

So, he's walked away.

You call me when you see others forking over $700-pounds a share. Because? Most people don't have the money.

And, anything less will backfire on the heads of the politicians.

So, Murdoch just has to wait.

He waits like a poker player holding all aces ... not only waits ... but he begins to cry. Hoping you'll throw more of your money into the center of the pot.

You haven't seen Murdoch's "TELL" yet.

And, someday? He's gonna be compared to Patton. A military leader that ALWAYS used tanks in battles ... to get to the enemy's rear. And, shove in a big surprise.

BOHICA

Revenant said...

If policy or directions "in furtherance" of those acts came from within News Corp., yes, it seems that based on the language of the statute there may have been a violation of the FCPA.

You're aware that News Corp doesn't actually own News of the World, right? News of the World is owned by a British company, News International. News Corp owns *that* company.

But, yes... if for some reason News of the World's illicit tabloid news-gathering service was being run out of New York (despite the targets being almost entirely British)... and if the portion of it being run out of New York involved bribery in Britain... then, yes, that would violate US law.

Of course, there's neither evidence of that nor reason to suspect such evidence would exist. Why would News Corp be involved at all? What would they stand to gain?

Peter Friedman said...

@ Revenant: You are aware, aren't you, that some of the the actual people who take responsibility for decisions within News Corp. are the actual people who take responsibility for decisions within News Group Newspapers Ltd. (the owner of the late, great News of the World)? And you are aware, aren't you, of Murdoch's legendary espousal of being an old-fashioned type of newspaper proprietor who takes an intimate interest in what his newspapers do?

82341e5e-ae2d-11e0-b0df-000f20980440 said...

You are aware, aren't you, that some of the the actual people who take responsibility for decisions within News Corp. are the actual people who take responsibility for decisions within News Group Newspapers Ltd. (the owner of the late, great News of the World)?

Using that logic, can't we hold Obama responsible for the actions of Major Hasan?

The really depressing thing is that you are a lawyer, but you clearly believe that the law exists to help you further your own rather unsavory ends.

Peter Friedman said...

"Using that logic, can't we hold Obama responsible for the actions of Major Hasan?"

I'm not sure what in the world this comment has to do with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The FPCA makes it a federal crime for a U.S. citizen to do anything "in furtherance" of an effort to influence a foreign official to break the law of his own country. Thus, if a U.S. citizen within News Corp. did anything "in furtherance" of efforts to influence U.K. police officers or other U.K. officials to illegally hack voice mails, those actions would be criminal.

Is there evidence that anyone within News Corp. did so? Not that I'm aware of, but the evidence of Murdoch cronies being in on the schemes to bribe U.K. police and engage in the voice mail hacking schemes seems to be piling up in breathtaking amounts, so we'll have to wait and see.

There are reports too that the voice mail of U.S. citizens have been hacked, including the voice mails of 9/11 families. Those would be criminal acts in and of themselves under federal law. How would you feel if you found out that had been done? How do you feel about the hacking of the 13 year-old murder victim's voice mail.

It doesn't seem to be going over well in the UK. The SkyTV deal has fallen apart, and now there's talk of Murdoch unloading all his UK media holdings.

What that has to do with your view that Obama is somehow responsible for the Fort Hood shooting is utterly beyond me. Perhaps I am missing the subtlety of your logic.

sorepaw said...
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