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The FBI is looking into claims that News Corp media outlets hacked the phones of 9/11 victims. (Credit: Mirror, screenshot)

The FBI will be investigate if “operatives working for News Corp. newspapers hacked into voicemail accounts of victims of the 9/11 attacks” in the U.S., the Los Angeles Times reported.

POLITICO reported that at least four U.S. politicians have “called for a U.S. investigation into allegations” that the now-closed News of the World tried to hack the phones of 9/11 victims. New Jersey Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg requested the Department  of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigate “the conduct of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.”

“The limited information already reported in this case raises serious questions about the legality of the conduct of News Corporation and its subsidiaries under the [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act],” Lautenberg reportedly wrote. “Further investigation may reveal that current reports only scratch the surface of the problem at News Corporation.”

Two more Democratic Senators, Jay Rockefeller from West Virginia and Barbara Boxer from California, also reportedly asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Securities Exchange Commission to look into the allegations of bribery against News Corp. and to find out if any American phones were hacked.

“The reported allegations against News Corporation are very serious, indicate a pattern of illegal activity, and involve thousands of potential victims. It is important to ensure that no United States laws were broken and no United States citizens were victimized,” Rockefeller and Boxer wrote in a letter to the attorney general and the SEC, according to POLITICO.

Also, Democratic Senator Robert Menendez asked the Departnent of Justice to look into the Daily Mirror’s claims that News of the World journalists “approached a New York private investigator and tried to buy phone records of victims from him. The investigator, who had been a cop, allegedly declined to provide the records.”

Read more at POLITICO here.

Rupert Murdoch Comments on Scandal

News Corp. owned newspaper the Wall Street Journal published an interview with Rupert Murdoch, in what was called his “first significant public comments on the tabloid newspaper scandal.”

Murdoch reportedly commented that the company has “handled the crisis ‘extremely well in every way possible'” despite some “minor mistakes.” Murdoch added that the company will survive the scandal and that he’s “just getting annoyed” by the “negative headlines.”

Brooks, Murdochs Will Answer Questions in Parliament July 19

The Guardian reported that News International’s CEO Rebekah Brooks will appear in Parliament next week to answer questions about the phone hacking scandal.  At first, neither Rupert or James Murdoch said they were “available” to “give evidence in person to the evidence-giving session on 19 July.” Journalism.co.uk noted that James Murdoch “did offer to appear at an alternative date, on 10 August at the earliest.”

But, by mid-July 14, Rupert and James Murdoch stated they would appear before the hearing.

Murdoch explained to the Wall Street Journal that his reversal was influenced by his “being told he would be summoned.” Murdoch commented that “Some of the things that have been said in Parliament …  are total lies. We think it’s important to absolutely establish our integrity in the eyes of the public……I felt that it’s best just to be as transparent as possible.”

He also claimed that  Gordon Brown was “entirely wrong” in alleging News International hacked his information.

Meanwhile, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg reportedly stated that “If they have any shred of sense of responsibility or accountability for their position of power then they should come and explain themselves to the select committee.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a ninth person has been arrested “in connection with [the police’s] probe into phone hacking” at News of the World. 

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Bancroft Family on Selling the Journal

Propublica reported that members of the Bancroft family, which sold the Wall Street Journal  to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for $5 billion in 2007,  “express regrets at selling” the newspaper given the current scandal embroiling Murdoch’s UK papers, including the now-closed News of the World.

“If I had known what I know now, I would have pushed harder against” Murdoch’s buying the Journal, Christopher Bancroft, is quoted as saying. He “had sole voting control of a trust that represented 13 percent of Dow Jones shares in 2007 and served on the Dow Jones Board.”

Guardian’s Nick Davies on Reporting the Phone Hacking Scandal

The Associated Press featured an interview with The Guardian’s Nick Davies who “broke the story” of Milly Dowler’s phone hacking.

“It’s a great story about the abuse of power,” Davies reportedly told the Associated Press. “That’s what all journalists want to expose, isn’t it? The abuse of power.”

His investigation originated with a 2005 News of the World story reporting on Prince William’s knee injury, according to the AP.  “Royal household staff believed the paper, part of the Rupert Murdoch media empire, could only have known about the injury by listening to the prince’s messages and asked police to investigate,” the AP reported.

Davies is quoted as telling the AP that he thought the Milly Dowler story “is the most powerful story so far” in the phone hacking scandal, but that he didn’t know how big the story would be. “It was almost unreal to watch … The prime minister, who had been so close to Murdoch and keen to defend the BSkyB and defend Coulson suddenly flipped his position.”

Accusations of Hacking at Daily Mirror

Meanwhile, the BBC is “aggressively pursuing” hacking charges at the Daily Mirror, Media Bistro’s TV Newser reported. CNN’s Piers Morgan, who was an editor at the Daily Mirror until 2004, “may be asked to appear before the inquiry investigating the hacking scandal.”  The Mirror is not owned by News Corp., but by Trinity Mirror Plc, according to Mondo Times.

Guido Fawkes’ blog, Order-Order, reported that “Three Conservative MPs have joined calls to see Piers Morgan answer questions about phone-hack” and that Parliament member Adrian Sanders claimed the Mirror “is suspected” of hacking in the case of Sven-Goran Eriksson and Ulrika Jonsson.

Morgan was fired in 2004 after the UK newspaper published pictures “apparently showing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British troops.” The photos turned out to be fake, but Morgan still defends the photos. In January 2011, Morgan argued on Twitter that he “never accepted” that the photos “were necessarily fake.”

10 Media Ethics Suggestions for “New Manifesto?”

The Guardian’s Jonathan Heawood responded to David Cameron’s call for a “review of the regulation of the press” by suggesting ten “principles.”

Heawood advocated a free press, “exposing crime, corruption and impropriety” in the name of public interest, and “freedom to express ourselves.” He added a “principle” that “free speech and privacy” could be moderated through “moral standards…without legal sanctions, except in the most extreme circumstances” and that the law should only interfere with free press if its a matter of “prevent irreparable, substantial and serious harm to individual.”

That standard of avoiding serious harm is also applied to the use of injunctions that serve as a form of prior restraint. Heawood argued only granting injunctions in very limited cases.

In what appeared to be the most direct reference to the News of the World scandal, Heawood’s ninth “principle” stated that the public has “the right to live our lives without intrusion or surveillance by public or private bodies.”  He reminded that both the press and “private companies” are able to violate the public’s privacy.  Read Heawood’s ten suggestions here.

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U.S. Politicians Call for Investigation into Claims NOTW Hacked 9/11 Victims Phones

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