Systemic corruption

The New York Times lays out the facts about Scotland Yard and the Murdoch empire.

The New York Times lays out the facts about the Metropolitan Police and the phone-hacking scandal. Some of the details are astounding: the police official in charge of the cover-up was rewarded with a job – which he still holds – as a columnist at the Sunday Times. The former News Corp. manager hired as a PR consultant to Scotland Yard kept sending information to his former employers. The police made false statements in court, denying the existence of evidence that they actually had.

There’s only a brief mention of the practice of illegal payoffs to police officers for private information about citizens, but the rest is there, with lots of supporting detail.

I’m told that my desire to see heads roll is likely to be satisfied.

Would everyone who believes that the Murdoch empire – so filthy dirty in London – is clean in Washington and New York please get in touch with me about a great investment opportunity in urban transportation infrastructure?

Hearst, Black, Berlusconi, Murdoch: the rise to political power of the criminal right-wing media mogul has become a public issue too vital to ignore.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

27 thoughts on “Systemic corruption”

  1. The existence of rampant corruption involving British public officials and employees of News Corporation is itself a probable violation of US criminal law under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I say probable, because an analysis of the details of briber, bribee, and their actual positions within the corporation and the government needs to be made. I have heard that DOJ is looking into it, and I’ve already read a whine-filled screed about how very unfair such an investigation would be.

    Good times.

  2. Probably because American public authorities will feel they have have been short changed on the amount of fine wine Murdoch´s empire seems to have spilled on the Britsh police and politicians, “breakfast, lunch, dinner and dance” as one non News Corp journalist termed it.

  3. “Hearst, Black, Berlusconi, Murdoch: the rise to political power of the criminal right-wing media mogul has become a public issue to vital to ignore.”

    True. But one bastard at a time. Let’s concentrate for now on bringing down Murdoch if we can.

  4. Somehow, I’m unsurprised that the same people who were untroubled by the NY Times’ and Washington Post’s willingness to publish classified info*, knowing it was classified, and by those papers complete shielding of those who leaked classified info, are horrified that some tabloid managed to get access to such critical information as police investigations of petty crimes and minor scams.

    *Just a short off-the-top-of-my-head list:
    Pentagon Papers
    NSA surveillance info
    Non-military prisons abroad
    Cannonball

  5. So SamChevre is shocked that news outlets work with citizens to challenge abuses of power by officials, but untroubled about news outlets’ working with officials to oppress citizens. Symmetry, of a sort.

  6. Maybe there’s a piece of the hacking story I haven’t seen, but the hacking/police mis-sharing issues I’ve seen have all related to attempts to keep tabs on either the Royal family (who I’d class as officials more than citizens) or on police investigations of petty-but-sensational crimes (and I’m rather strongly in favor of police investigations being monitored closely.)

  7. Mark, would you include Moses and Walter Annenberg on your list, since you go back as far as Hearst?

  8. @SamChevre,

    I don’t know that I personally would classify the murder of 13-year old Milly Dowler as a “petty-but-sensational” crime. Nor the the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells, both 10-years old girls. To characterize these as “petty-but-sensational crimes” displays a level of inhumanity and callousness worth of Rupert Murdoch himself.

    And your trivialization of the cruel tormenting of Milly’s parents and the targeting of other parents of murdered girls is beneath even a conservative. How can you so blithely dismiss the despicable intrusions into the private grief of family members of the 7/7 London bombing victims? And family members of British soldiers who gave their lives for their country in Afghanistan and Iraq. And, quite possibly, the family members of the 9/11 attacks in this country. By what twisted logic do you equate revelations of government wrongdoing and corruption with these vile intrusions by Murdoch’s gang into the most awful moments of private grief imaginable?

  9. Mark, how do you feel about the Obama administration not prosecuting anyone for the much more serious Bush reign of torture?

  10. To get the credits right: the key journalist responsible for bringing the full scandal to light,in the face of an expert, high-level, well-funded and corrupt cover-up, was it appears Nick Davies of The Guardian.

    A very nice piece of gossip from Chris Bertram, commenting (#33) on his own post at Crooked Timber:

    “Delicious news circulating on Twitter that Murdoch and Brooks were refused a table at the River Café (who also sent a cake to the Guardian newsroom in congratulation at their achievements). One person remarks that it is like the final scene in Dangerous Liaisons when Glenn Close is shunned at the opera.”

  11. Technically, Chris, that’s the Bush/Obama reign of torture, since it didn’t actually stop when Obama took office.

    Presidents do not prosecute their predecessors, in as much as they don’t want to be prosecuted by their successors, and it would be a quite unusual President who didn’t do something that would justify prosecution absent such an informal rule. Obama sure as heck isn’t that sparklingly clean President. So, even if he were so inclined, Obama is not going to prosecute Bush, as a simple matter of self-preservation.

  12. Mitch,

    “Petty” is the wrong word–no crime, and certainly no murder, is properly petty–but by contrast with, say, Operation Cannonball or the black prisons, I’d say even a sensational murder is petty-by-comparison.

  13. Or, for that matter, Operation Fast and Furious. Deliberately feeding the Mexican cartels arms is a pretty sensational crime, I would think. Now that it’s starting to appear there were simultaneous programs to feed arms to criminal gangs in other countries, such as Honduras, very sensational indeed.

    But Murdock didn’t have anything to do with it, so it’s not really worth commenting on, I suppose…

  14. SamChevre is largely right. It’s good that the Milly Dowling affair corresponded to a crime, so the Murdoch empire could be brought to justice. But most of the Murdoch empire’s crimes were legal: suborning the political system for profit, and treating Scotland Yard as a wholly-owned subsidiary. It’s the latter crimes that are of genuine public interest: they are far worse than illegal news-gathering, which is pretty petty by comparison. (And I’ll put aside the manipulative heartlessness of the Milly Dowling affair: it’s SOP for most journos, even those that follow the law.)

  15. How did this get turned around into an Obama bash?

    Really, it’s about (part of) a media organization that corrupted (part of) a police organization. When the media, that we hope would be antagonistic to the power structure, becomes enmeshed, it’s not doing it’s job.

    That is why we all hated the ‘pay to play’ op-eds sponsored by some recent administration.

  16. ‘Conservative’ hacks and operatives have long since learned that the best way to address someone discovering a ‘conservative’ doing something wrong/stupid/evil or otherwise disgusting is to do as much of the following as they can

    1. Cpmpletely ignore the issue raised

    2. Attack ‘the the side’ for doing something bad

    3. Attack the source of the article

    4. Whine about lack of civility by ‘the other side’

    Then we spend our time defending liberals and progressives and the right wingers get off scott free.

  17. “Or, for that matter, Operation Fast and Furious. Deliberately feeding the Mexican cartels arms is a pretty sensational crime, I would think. Now that it’s starting to appear there were simultaneous programs to feed arms to criminal gangs in other countries, such as Honduras, very sensational indeed.”

    Oh don’t be silly, Brett.
    What exactly is your complaint? I don’t know what liberals YOU hang out with, but, to take one example, the liberals I associate with and read are horrified and saddened (though not surprised) at the Somalia torture camps revelation from yesterday. Likewise we’re not at all thrilled about the way the “war on drugs” is being handled — and regardless of Mark’s views on Obama as a whole, he publishes his views on this matter every week on this blog. Likewise, you may not have noticed, but there’s precious little support in the liberal blogosphere for Obama’s stance regarding the “debt (phony) crisis”.

  18. A few years ago, SamChevre was mildly interesting: a self-confessed leaner-to-the-right who nonetheless had the occasional thoughtful thing to say.

    It’s exciting to see how little time it took him to submit himself fully to the cult, vomiting forth whatever his masters tell him to vomit forth. So, the murder of schoolgirl Milly Dowling was “petty” (even if it became “sensational” as well a few comments later, as Sam began dimly to perceive that normal people would view him and his remarks with all the respect they deserve). Soon, no doubt, Sam will be reminding us that Graeme Frost’s parents have granite counter-tops, and that John Kerry faked the injuries (finger cut by a jagged beer-can opening) that earned him his Purple Heart.

    Do lay off Brett Bellmore, though. He’s simply adorable.

  19. When the media, that we hope would be antagonistic to the power structure, becomes enmeshed, it’s not doing it’s job.

    Right.

    But in this case, what seems to me to be happening is that News Corp generally was a major thorn in the side of the power structure, and their connection with one small part of it was part of what gave them the ability to hold everyone else’s feet to the fire. And no one I’ve seen is cheering because “tabloid XYZ is being shut down”; everyone is cheering because “the newspaper that repeatedly made us look like venal idiots is being shut down.”

  20. The problem with News Corp is not that it was “generally a major thorn in the side of the power structure.” It’s problem is that it WAS part of the power structure, and a big part, to boot. There is a big distinction between investigative journalism and partisan propaganda, a distinction that SamChevre seems to elide.

  21. I have long since given up on nearly any ‘conservative’ being able to make a moral distinction unless it covered the arse of their side or could be used to attack someone else. Morality for these paragons of ‘value’ is whatever works to help them exercise power. More honest minds call what they do nihilism.

    Apparently helping one side win elections, corrupting the police force, and the gods only know what else are just fraternity pranks, as Limbaugh referred to torture. Apparently helping one side win elections through dishinesty is akin to releasing the Pentagon Papers which demonstrated to any honest person who read them that the government had been dishonest to the American people.

    I once was a conservative, and long held their greatest thinkers in some considerable esteem (Burke, Oakeshott, for two) even after I wasn’t – but the moral midgets and worse that use the term today are profoundly destructive to any set of values or the rule of law, they are to conservatism what Satanism is to religion.

  22. SamChevre says:

    “Maybe there’s a piece of the hacking story I haven’t seen, but the hacking/police mis-sharing issues I’ve seen have all related to attempts to keep tabs on either the Royal family (who I’d class as officials more than citizens) or on police investigations of petty-but-sensational crimes (and I’m rather strongly in favor of police investigations being monitored closely.)”

    Indeed, you don’t know what’s going on, and what you talk about you’ve gotten wrong.

    As usual.

  23. @Brett – Given its relevance to the discussion, the only possible reply to your last comment is GYOFB.

  24. The problem with News Corp is not that it was “generally a major thorn in the side of the power structure.” It’s problem is that it WAS part of the power structure, and a big part, to boot. There is a big distinction between investigative journalism and partisan propaganda, a distinction that SamChevre seems to elide.

    I don’t elide the distinction; I simply don’t believe it reflects anything other than “who’s on my side”; reality is reality. The Washington Post and the NY Times are also part of the power structure; the Wingnut may have accurate observations about police abuses, but they are not enough part of the power structure for anyone to pay attention.

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