Rupert Murdoch’s media empire was in the spotlight again yesterday when accusations that two more of his newspapers engaged in hacking and privacy violations that included paying Queen Elizabeth II’s bodyguards for secret information about the monarch’s movements and accessing former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s bank accounts and medical records of his young son. This follows reports that Murdoch’s News International minions breached the privacy of thousands, including the phone records of politicians and even the families and victims of 911. Brits and Murdoch watchers are further shocked that five senior investigators with the venerable Scotland Yard have been implicated in the story; evidence shows the officers’ own phones were hacked in 2006 by The News of the World reporters and incriminating personal information found. This raises the question of whether senior criminal investigators had concerns that if they aggressively investigated the paper they would be punished with splashy stories about their secrets, some of which were tabloid-ready. The tentacles of Murdoch’s influence seem to reach even to the highest political offices in the United Kingdom, and the extent of his influence is just coming to light. What does this mean for the mega-empire that Murdoch has built and the politicians who played his game? And what about the people without influence of their own – does their personal privacy warrant protection?
David Folkenflik, media correspondent for NPR