Over the summer, the world witnessed the collapse of one of the greatest news titans in our history; Rupert Murdoch, businessman and owner of News Corp, was caught in the whirlwind of a scandal that swallowed his reputation and the future of his company. The major focus of this scandal was an allegation that Murdoch hired and paid hackers to illegally access phone information from citizens globally and used that information to create fodder for news stories.
The most infamous and sinister case was that Murdoch’s hackers accessed the phone of a missing girl, now deceased13-year old Milly Dowler, and that it may have hindered police investigation and the search for the girl.
Murdoch and his associates claimed to be unaware of the phone hacks during a media committee meeting. It was later revealed that the hackers deleted several messages from Dowler’s voicemail in order to slow the incentive for police search and thus extend the life of the “missing child” story for News Corp to cover. This was just one of the incidents on the long laundry list accrued by Murdoch’s empire.
Although the scandals aren’t entirely new, with longstanding controversy pinned on Murdoch bleeding out year after year, what makes these recent disgraces more potent is the extremity of them and that all of Murdoch’s accumulated misdeeds are now catching up to him.
Over the past 50 years, Rupert Murdoch has constructed a massive news media conglomeration, starting after working for his father’s newspaper company. Since the founding of News Corporation in 1979, Murdoch has gone on to acquire The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, 20th Century Fox Film and Fox Broadcasting Company, as well as most news outlets throughout his homeland of Australia. He has billions and billions of dollars to his name and employed his son, James, as chairman and chief executive under Murdoch’s board of directors.
Former chief executive and former editor of News Corp Rebekah Brooks had also been involved in the case since 2002, when she was an editor for the company. She had originally claimed to know nothing about the phone hacking or the messages deleted from Dowler’s phone. In July of 2011, smack in the middle of News Corps’ downward spiral, she announced her resignation in a statement saying,
“As chief executive of the company, I feel a deep sense of responsibility for the people we have hurt and I want to reiterate how sorry I am for what we now know to have taken place. I have believed that the right and responsible action has been to lead us through the heat of the crisis. However my desire to remain on the bridge has made me a focal point of the debate. This is now detracting attention from all our honest endeavours to fix the problems of the past. Therefore I have given Rupert and James Murdoch my resignation. While it has been a subject of discussion, this time my resignation has been accepted”
In other words, it seems that her duties were relinquished to maintain damage control. Murdoch, on the other hand, faces serious charges, including millions of dollars in fines from various outlets. Murdoch’s News of the World was also closed this past July as a result of the scandal, and the courts have yet to reach a final decision on the fate of Rupert Murdoch and his staggering conglomerate.