Parliament's remarkable three-hour hearing on July 19, focusing on the role of Rupert Murdoch and top News International executives in the immense phone-hacking scandal, proved an epic Westminster moment. It's now possible to see with historic clarity how a cunning press lord and a gang of enabling thugs, under a cloak of journalistic high-mindedness, managed to capture and control the three essential institutions of contemporary British life: the political system, the media, and the police. A transfixed audience of millions learned how a bullying owner of old-fashioned printing presses and satellite television networks could break Britain's civic compact. It was absolutely riveting -- and deeply depressing.
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The hacking scandal currently shaking Rupert Murdoch's empire will surprise only those who have willfully blinded themselves to that empire's pernicious influence on journalism in the English-speaking world. Too many of us have winked in amusement at the salaciousness without considering the larger corruption of journalism and politics promulgated by Murdoch Culture on both sides of the Atlantic.
The facts of the case are astonishing in their scope. Thousands of private phone messages hacked, presumably by people affiliated with the Murdoch-owned News of the World newspaper, with the violated parties ranging from Prince William and actor Hugh Grant to murder victims and families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The arrest of Andy Coulson, former press chief to Prime Minister David Cameron, for his role in the scandal during his tenure as the paper's editor. The arrest (for the second time) of Clive Goodman, the paper's former royals editor. The shocking July 7 announcement that the paper would cease publication three days later...
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The Idiot Culture (A Pre-Murdoch Report)
This cover story of June 6, 1992 for The New Republic magazine seems especially relevant in light of the Murdoch scandal of 2011. The piece, written for the twentieth anniversary of the Watergate break-in, identified the pernicious influence of tabloid/sleaze journalism that, even then, was beginning to dominate so much of the American media.
It is now nearly a generation since the drama that began with the Watergate break-in and ended with the resignation of Richard Nixon, a full twenty years in which the American press has been engaged in a strange frenzy of self-congratulation and defensiveness about its performance in that affair and afterward. The self-congratulation is not justified; the defensiveness, alas, is. For increasingly the America rendered today in the American media is illusionary and delusionary -- disfigured, unreal, disconnected from the true context of our lives. In covering actually existing American life, the media -- weekly, daily, hourly -- break new ground in getting it wrong. The coverage is distorted by celebrity and the worship of celebrity; by the reduction of news to gossip, which is the lowest form of news; by sensationalism, which is always a turning away from society's real condition; and by a political and social discourse that we -- the press, the media, the politicians, and the people -- are turning into a sewer.
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A Woman In Charge
Now a New York Times and National Bestseller, Carl Bernstein’s stunning portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton shows us, as nothing else has, the true trajectory of her life and career.
Marshaling all the skills and energy that propelled his history-making Pulitzer Prize reporting on Watergate, Bernstein gives us the most detailed, sophisticated, comprehensive, and revealing account we have had of the complex--and heretofore camouflaged--human being who has already helped define one presidency and may well become, herself, the woman in charge of another.
He has given us a book that enables us, at last, to address the questions Americans are insistently--even obsessively--asking about Hillary Clinton: What is her character? What is her political philosophy? Who is she? What can we expect of her?