Rupert Murdoch

Hack Attack by Nick Davies & Beyond Contempt by Peter Jukes

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December 2014, no. 367

Bettina Jordan-Barber will soon face trial for receiving around £100,000 over nine years from the Sun newspaper for supplying information while she was an official in the Ministry of Defence. Both the prosecution and the defence during the recent UK ‘phone hacking’ trial accepted that the payments had been made, and that Rebekah Brooks, while she was editor of the Sun from 2003 to 2006, authorised eleven of them totalling £38,000. According to Brooks, it never occurred to her that the person her reporter, who will also soon face trial, referred to in his emails as his ‘number one military contact’ and ‘ace military source’ might be someone in the military. The jury accepted this profession of ignorance, so Brooks was found not guilty of ‘conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office’.

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Talk about unfortunate timing. On 10 December 2012, the New Yorker ran a lengthy profile on Elisabeth Murdoch, the older sister of Lachlan and James. Elisabeth, forty-four, lives in Britain, where – while her siblings have been marked down for everything from, in Lachlan’s case, One.Tel to Ten Network and, in James’s case, MySpace and phone hacking – she has quietly built a reputation as a savvy television producer and businesswoman. The profile is a public relations hosanna – unsurprising given that Elisabeth’s husband, Sigmund Freud’s great-grandson Matthew Freud, is a flack with his own PR firm – with the title declaring its subject to be, in capital letters, THE HEIRESS. The subheading simply states: ‘The rise of Elisabeth Murdoch.’

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It all began with Prince William’s knee. Not, of course, the phone hacking and bribery and corruption which, as we all now know, was commonplace behaviour in the British tabloid newspapers at the heart of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire – that had been going on for far longer. But when, in November 2005, the News of the World carried a trivial story about the prince – ‘Royal Action Man’ – receiving treatment for a strained tendon, he and Prince Charles’s staff realised that this and other leaks could only have come from someone accessing his voicemail. St James’s Palace, fearing a security threat to a future king, called in the Metropolitan Police.

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Get in line, Bruce. The world is full of those who have been done over by Rupert Murdoch. In the immortal words of George Cukor to an aggrieved actor: ‘Will you stop about being fired. Everybody’s been fired.’ So what makes Bruce Guthrie, sacked as Editor-in-Chief of the Herald Sun ...

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Rupert Murdoch certainly attracts a good class of biographer. There was George Munster, who contributed so much to Australian politics and culture by helping to establish and edit Nation, and William Shawcross, one of Britain’s most prominent journalists. There were other biographies, too, before the efforts of Bruce Page ...

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Virtual Murdoch by Neil Chenoweth & Working for Rupert by Hugh Lunn

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August 2001, no. 233

In the last week of June, after a period in the doldrums, the News Corporation share price suddenly took wing again. Buyers piled in. A lazy few hundred million dollars were added to the company’s value. The basis of the revaluation? Apparently, Rupert Murdoch himself had descended from Olympus to participate in a presentation to sharebrokers in Sydney. Enraptured at this visitation, analysts had upped their profit projections for News.

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One of the truly astonishing accounts to emerge in Munster’s account concerns another US president, John F. Kennedy, whose press secretary, Pierre Salinger, forged a cable in Murdoch’s name to kill a Murdoch report of an off-the-record talk he had with the president. The cable, sent through State Department channels, was signed ‘Murdoch’.

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