Rupert Murdoch Scandal

There are many reasons the scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has riveted public attention around the world. It's a story that features all of the classic elements: crimes, betrayal, abuse of power and even a cover-up.

But beneath Murdoch's public meltdown lies a bigger problem, and it’s not confined to England, where News Corp. stands accused of hacking phones and computers and bribing and misleading investigators. It’s a problem that plagues all consolidated news organizations that reach a certain scale, but especially News Corp. It’s about what happens when media corporations get too cozy with power — and government officials fail to challenge them.

More than any of the current crop of media moguls, Murdoch accrues political influence through his aggressive manipulation of News Corp.'s many media outlets. It's not just in the way Murdoch’s media properties cover the news but how they use this coverage to give him favorable access to elected officials to promote News Corp.’s agenda.

The company uses its media power to shape corporate-friendly policies and quash those that don’t further its aims. News Corp. also helps elect politicians with timely endorsements while punishing foes who get in its way with negative coverage and political threats.

This relentless pursuit of power has worked in the United States, where neither the Federal Communications Commission nor Congress has mustered the courage to challenge runaway media consolidation or call Murdoch to account. Free Press has asked the FCC to assess the company’s fitness to continue holding 27 television broadcast licenses in light of the widening scandal, and continues to urge Congress to conduct hearings into the allegations of News Corp.’s “rampant law breaking.”

Earlier this year, in response to a call from Free Press and allied organizations, the Justice Department launched a probe of News Corp. It’s time for Congress and the FCC to step forward as well.

Blog Posts

  • Will Murdoch Succeed in Burying His Past?

    January 8, 2014
    It’s a new year for News Corp. But the recently rebranded media colossus can’t seem to shake off a 2013 hangover.
  • Jon Stewart for FCC Chair

    March 29, 2013

    On Thursday night, Jon Stewart "interviewed" Rupert Murdoch about the News Corp. mogul's ambitions to buy the Los Angeles Times — and the legal hurdles that stand in the way of this acquisition.

  • In Your Face, Rupert

    March 8, 2013

    We’ve been fighting media consolidation for a decade, and this month we chalked up another win. Thanks to the efforts of Free Press activists and allies around the country, the Federal Communications Commission announced it will again delay its vote on whether to weaken the media ownership rules.

More »

Press Releases

  • Civil Rights and Union Leaders Urge FCC to Halt Changes to Media Ownership Rules, Study Impact on Diversity

    November 28, 2012

    WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, civil rights organizations, unions and public interest groups held a press teleconference to urge the Federal Communications Commission to stop its rush to lift longstanding media ownership limits. The groups called on the FCC to delay any action on media ownership rules until it first analyzes the impact of proposed changes on women and people of color.

  • 70,000 Petition Congress to Hold Hearings on News Corp. Corruption

    May 8, 2012

    WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, Free Press sent a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller that praises the senator for requesting that British authorities share any information they have uncovered about violations of United States law during their investigation of News Corp. and its subsidiaries.

  • News Corp.’s Admission of Guilt Shouldn’t Fall on Deaf Ears in Washington

    January 19, 2012

    WASHINGTON – On Thursday, News Corp. admitted to British officials that “senior employees and directors” of the company’s British newspaper division, News Group Newspapers, knew about illegal phone hacking by News of the World staff “and sought to conceal it by deliberately deceiving investigators and destroying evidence.”

More »

Resources

  • Joint Letter on FCC Media Ownership Rules

    Members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee urged the Federal Communications Commission to steer clear of proposals that would allow for more media consolidation until the agency has studied the impact such rules would have on localism and diversity. The letter pointed out that the Internet is not a replacement for local news coverage and reminded the Commission it has a congressional mandate to protect and promote localism.

    December 14, 2012
  • Ownership Broadsheet

    Download the 11" x 17" PDF here.

    December 12, 2012
More »

News from Around the Web

  • Rupert Murdoch's Whopping Christmas Present

    Esquire
    November 29, 2012

    It should be remembered that I speak now as someone who gladly took, and cashed, a paycheck from Rupert Murdoch for six years, from 1983 until 1989. It is in that spirit that I now argue that, if the FCC presents that old pirate with the whopping Christmas gift it is apparently preparing to give him, then the president either has lost control of his administration, or he personally has taken leave of his senses. There is no third alternative.

  • Why Is the Obama FCC Plotting a Massive Giveaway to Rupert Murdoch?

    Huffington Post
    November 20, 2012

    What if I told you the Obama administration's first major post-election policy move was a big, fat gift for Rupert Murdoch? Murdoch already owns the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, Fox News Channel, Fox movie studios, 27 local TV stations and much more. Word is that Murdoch now covets the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Under current media ownership limits, he can't buy them. It's illegal... unless the FCC changes the rules. According to numerous reports, that's exactly what FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski plans to do.

Learn More

  • Media Consolidation

    The more independent outlets a community has, the more different viewpoints will be presented on the air. But what happens when there’s no one left to compete?
  • Covert Consolidation

    When you turn on the nightly news, you expect to find competing viewpoints and different perspectives from one station to the next. But in communities across the country, stations that were once fierce competitors have cut staff and merged their newsrooms, in many cases airing the same content on multiple stations in the same market. You can try to change the channel, but all you'll see is the exact same newscast.

  • Fake News

    How much of our local news is propaganda? Stations are slipping sponsored “video news releases” — promotional segments designed to look like objective news reports — into their regular programming. And increasingly they’re using these VNRs without identifying them as such. This deception is illegal under federal law and Federal Communications Commission rules.

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good