UK members of parliament have requested that Rupert Murdoch reappear before a committee for further questioning about an alleged secret tape recording on which Murdoch admits to bribing public officials for news tips. The tape, obtained by Exaro News, details Murdoch referring to the the phone hacking scandal by his newspapers as “next to nothing,” and acknowledging that his paper reporters paid police for information, according to the Associated Press.
Despite a string of arrests and charges for Murdoch’s News Corp. reporters and employees, the CEO was purportedly caught on tape supporting his companies’ illegal hacking methods. Excerpts from the tape expose Murdoch’s conversation with journalists from his tabloid, The Sun, in which he talks about “totally incompetent” police officers and assures his employees that they will be supported, whether or not they are convicted for involvement in the hacking scandal.
“Why are the police behaving in this way? It’s the biggest inquiry ever, over next to nothing,” Murdoch said of the hacking scandal involving more than one of his tabloids, which has now spanned over a decade.
Murdoch last appeared before lawmakers in 2011, but the phone hacking scandal involving employees of his News of the World tabloid began in 2002. By 2011, an investigation of the phone hacking allegations had uncovered evidence of illegal payments to public officials as well as allegations of computer hacking. Last year the BBC reported that over 4,000 people have been identified by police as possible victims of hacking by News of the World.
A spokesman for the British division of News Corp. told the Daily Mail that “Mr. Murdoch never knew of payments made by Sun staff to police before News Corporation disclosed that to UK authorities. Furthermore, he never said he knew of payments. It’s absolutely false to suggest otherwise.”
However, on the tape, Murdoch reassures a Sun employee that their practices of phone hacking and bribing police and public officials are nothing out of the ordinary. “We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops” he says. “That’s been going on a hundred years. You didn’t instigate it.”
Over his lifetime, Murdoch has acquired numerous newspapers throughout the world, including the UK’s News of the World and The Sun. He also owns several satellite television networks, cable channels, and television stations, including the right-wing propaganda and misinformation powerhouse, Fox News, which Murdoch branded as “fair and balanced” journalism. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Former employees of Fox News have testified that Murdoch dictated the angles of their reporting as well as the topics they could cover, despite the fact that much of their acceptable material had no news value whatsoever.
The Australian media mogul also has ties to the tobacco industry. In 1989, he joined the Philip Morris Board of Directors and used his media resources to aid the tobacco industry.
“As regards the media, we plan to build similar relationships to those we now have with Murdoch’s News Limited with other newspaper proprietors. Murdoch’s papers rarely publish anti-smoking articles these days,” an internal industry memo from 1985 states.
At the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, which aired on C-SPAN in 2007, Murdoch told a commentator, “Obviously if you’re in media and you’re concerned with what’s going on in the world, you’d like to make a difference by putting forward your opinions… I think good, strong news organizations can, by disclosing things, help shape the agenda.”
Murdoch then admitted to helping shape the agenda by supporting George W. Bush’s war in Iraq.
Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.