The News Corporation is a family owned and family run business. We have been told for three decades how closely and lovingly involved Rupert Murdoch is in all of its methods and operations. Asking whether hacking methods are “his fault” is like asking whether the conservative politics of his papers are “his fault.”
Either he runs the business and imposes his vision on operations, or he does not. He, his defenders, and his detractors have always maintained that he does -- to an extent almost unknown in other enterprises.
I think it’s pretty clear that whenever Murdoch buys something, he makes it (a) more conservative politically, and (b) esthetically and ethically trashier. Conservatives have ignored (b) because of (a). That is the crux of my complaint.
The issue appears to be especially important because of indications that Murdoch media have blackmailed the British Government into granting the News Corporation favorable treatment (e.g. selling Murdoch a 31% stake in BSkyB). Example:
- Someone acting for The Sunday Times illegally gained access to private family records of Gordon Brown, Britain’s Labour prime minister from 2007 to 2010, by posing as Brown -- a practice commonly referred to as identity theft, or blagging.
- The Times learned that Brown’s newborn son Fraser suffered from cystic fibrosis, something the family had never discussed.
- Rebekah Brooks, now News International’s chief executive, called Brown, with the air of doing him a favor, to tell them that the tabloid “knew of” the boy’s condition, leaving the rest implied: play ball with Mr. Murdoch, and perhaps we can do something more to protect your family’s privacy.
To maintain even a fig leaf of credibility, prominent conservatives favoring the "rule of law" need to express some chagrin at these revelations even though the offender is "one of their own" and even though nearly every conservative organization takes Murdoch's money.
For the right to become again a viable intellectual a movement, its adherents must take ideas seriously and not whore them out to partisan interest. So I'd love to see a right that does not censor itself for fear of "biting the hands" that feed it; a right that can hold its own and its allies to the same, or to an even higher, standard than it holds its enemies; a right that can, for instance, utter even a mouse-like peep or squeak of concern about the besetting indecencies that attach to some of the projects of Rupert Murdoch; a right that can say, finally, to this vulgarian: Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency? You have sat here too long for any good you are doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!