Study shows that Fox News is more powerful than we ever imagined

Vox reports: Fox News is, by far, America’s dominant TV news channel; in the second quarter of 2017, Fox posted 2.35 million total viewers in primetime versus 1.64 million for MSNBC and 1.06 million for CNN. Given that Fox was founded by a longtime Republican Party operative and has almost exclusively hired conservative commentators, talk radio hosts, and the like to host its shows, it would stand to reason that its dominance on basic cable could influence how Americans vote, perhaps even tipping elections.

A new study in the American Economic Review (the discipline’s flagship journal), with an intriguing and persuasive methodology, finds exactly that. Emory University political scientist Gregory Martin and Stanford economist Ali Yurukoglu estimate that watching Fox News directly causes a substantial rightward shift in viewers’ attitudes, which translates into a significantly greater willingness to vote for Republican candidates.

They estimate that if Fox News hadn’t existed, the Republican presidential candidate’s share of the two-party vote would have been 3.59 points lower in 2004 and 6.34 points lower in 2008.

For context, that would’ve made John Kerry the 2004 popular vote winner, and turned Barack Obama’s 2008 victory into a landslide where he got 60 percent of the two-party vote.

“There is a non-trivial amount of uncertainty” about those estimates, Yurukoglu cautions. “I personally don’t think it’s totally implausible, but it is higher than I would have guessed prior to the research.” And even if the effect were half as large as estimated, that’d still mean that Fox News is having a very real, sizable effect on elections. [Continue reading…]

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James Murdoch, rebuking Trump, pledges $1 million to Anti-Defamation League

The New York Times reports: James Murdoch, the chief executive of 21st Century Fox and the son of a frequent ally of President Trump’s, condemned the president’s performance after the violence in Charlottesville, Va., and pledged to donate $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League.

In an email on Thursday, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times and confirmed as authentic by a spokesman for Mr. Murdoch’s company, the Fox scion gave an extraordinarily candid statement against the white supremacist sentiment that swept through Virginia last weekend. It was also the most outspoken that a member of the Murdoch family has been in response to the week’s events.

Mr. Murdoch’s father, Rupert Murdoch, is a conservative media mogul who has become an informal adviser to Mr. Trump, recently dining with the president in the White House residence. The younger Mr. Murdoch has been less outspoken about his political views, making the email even more surprising.

With a subject line reading, “Subject: Personal note from James Murdoch re: ADL,” Mr. Murdoch addressed the note to “friends.”

“I’m writing to you in a personal capacity, as a concerned citizen and a father. It has not been my habit to widely offer running commentary on current affairs, nor to presume to weigh in on the events of a given day save those that might be of particular or specific concern to 21CF and my colleagues,” he wrote. “But what we watched this last week in Charlottesville and the reaction to it by the President of the United States concern all of us as Americans and free people.”

He added: “These events remind us all why vigilance against hate and bigotry is an eternal obligation — a necessary discipline for the preservation of our way of life and our ideals. The presence of hate in our society was appallingly laid bare as we watched swastikas brandished on the streets of Charlottesville and acts of brutal terrorism and violence perpetrated by a racist mob. I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis. Or Klansmen, or terrorists. Democrats, Republicans, and others must all agree on this, and it compromises nothing for them to do so.” [Continue reading…]

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Fox News staffers ‘embarrassed’ by Hannity’s conspiracy theory crusade

The Daily Beast reports: Fox News staffers are growing increasingly dismayed as network star Sean Hannity and others continue to promote the unfounded conspiracy theory that Seth Rich, a Democratic National Committee staffer was murdered last year for talking to WikiLeaks.

The Daily Beast spoke to nearly a dozen reporters, pundits, and hosts inside Fox News who all conveyed the same sentiment: Hannity is “embarrassing” the network, and the promotion of the Rich conspiracy theory is senselessly cruel to a grieving family.

“ARE WE STILL AIRING THAT SHIT?!” one Fox News political reporter, who says they are furious that the conservative cable-news giant is entertaining the conspiracy theory, messaged The Daily Beast when informed of recent coverage. [Continue reading…]

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Fox News executive, Bill Shine, departs amid turmoil

The New York Times reports: Fox News on Monday removed one of its most powerful executives, Bill Shine, another seismic shake-up at a network that remains in crisis mode as its owner, Rupert Murdoch, moves to steer it past the sexual harassment scandal that first engulfed it last summer.

Mr. Shine, a network co-president and a longtime lieutenant to its disgraced former chairman, Roger Ailes, was viewed by some employees as a symbol of Fox News’s old-guard leadership even as its parent, 21st Century Fox, pledged reforms to the company culture and a new era of civility in the newsroom.

But there were signs that the pressure on 21st Century Fox might not let up soon. One veteran executive who was promoted on Monday, Suzanne Scott, has, like Mr. Shine, been cited in lawsuits as a figure who enabled and concealed Mr. Ailes’s harassing behavior toward women. [Continue reading…]

The Daily Beast reports: Sean Hannity is looking to leave Fox News, according to sources, following the resignation of Fox News co-president Bill Shine officially on Monday.

Shine was Hannity’s long-time ally whom he personally recommended the network hire two decades ago to produce Hannity & Colmes. In recent days, Hannity warned it would be the “total end” of Fox News should Shine leave, and he rallied conservative activists to back him up.

Initially, insiders said, Hannity’s army of lawyers had hoped to discuss with Fox ways of protecting his 8-year-old primetime show, amid fears that Lachlan and James Murdoch—fresh off the ousting of Bill O’Reilly—were looking to push the network away from hard-right politics.

However, with Shine’s departure on Monday, one source told The Daily Beast, there’s no reason for Hannity to stay. [Continue reading…]

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Insiders say that the troubles at Fox News are only just beginning

Sarah Ellison writes: Inside the divided Fox News bunker, many seasoned executives are wondering if they are living in an alternate universe. As shocking as the Roger Ailes fiasco may have been, and as surprising as Megyn Kelly’s departure went down, Bill O’Reilly’s sudden ouster has absolutely shaken the newsroom, according to multiple insiders. (Ailes has fervently denied all accusations.) Executives spent a contentious Wednesday in various closed-door meetings as they finalized the fate of the network’s biggest star, who was forced out amid news of sexual-harassment allegations and settlements of those allegations.

The reactions to the news of O’Reilly’s departure were decidedly mixed in the newsroom. Some staffers cried. Others were elated. The move also laid bare divisions between the Murdoch sons, Lachlan and James, and their father, who were on opposite sides of the argument about whether to retain the anchor, according to a person close to the family. Eventually, though, Rupert Murdoch agreed with his sons about the need to remove O’Reilly, this person added. And the day was filled with an ominous tension as the elder Murdoch, the network’s C.E.O., moved from one closed-door meeting to another to inform on-air talent of their new jobs.

While his fate may have seemed sealed earlier in the week, O’Reilly’s attorneys did not get the official word of his departure until this morning, according to two people familiar with the matter. And O’Reilly, who was enjoying a vacation in Italy, only formally learned of his demise en route to the airport. (In a statement, O’Reilly noted, “It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today.”) Within Fox News, it remains unclear how much O’Reilly may receive in severance, but some sources speculated that the figure could be in the ballpark of the $40 million that Ailes received.[Continue reading…]

Matthew Sheffield writes: Since a series of sexual harassment accusations led to the ouster of Roger Ailes as chairman and CEO of Fox News Channel last summer, the managerial culture he created at the network has come under increased scrutiny. Ailes’ old-fashioned, male-dominated style has been characterized by many former employees as sexist, but another aspect of it has received little attention: the many ways that Fox News was run more like a political operation than a journalistic enterprise.

During the Ailes era, the network’s ferocity in defending itself against inconvenient facts and journalists it deemed unfair became legendary among the small group of people who cover the media business. Under its former head, the network employed a team of “black room” operators who allegedly obtained phone records and credit reports of reporters disliked by Ailes. According to news reports, private investigators working for the company were dispatched to follow journalists, apparently to find out whom they were meeting. According to sources, sometimes Fox News corporate funds were used for such endeavors; other times, Ailes paid for them himself.

That ultra-aggressive approach to promotion during the Ailes era also extended to the online world, where Fox News employees and contractors were dispatched to do battle against not just mainstream media reporters but also against small-time bloggers and even website commenters. Fox News even went so far as to create at least two anonymous websites that attacked the competition. [Continue reading…]

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Megyn Kelly on dealing with sexual harassment and the threat President Trump may pose to journalism

 

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Don’t call Clinton a weak candidate — it took decades of scheming to beat her

Rebecca Solnit writes: Sometimes I think I have never seen anything as strong as Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t mean that I like and admire everything about her. I’m not here to argue about who she is, just to note what she did. I watched her plow through opposition and attacks the like of which no other candidate has ever faced and still win the popular vote. To defeat her it took an unholy cabal far beyond what Barack Obama faced when he was the campaign of change, swimming with the tide of disgust about the Bush administration. As the New York Times reported, “By the time all the ballots are counted, she seems likely to be ahead by more than 2m votes and more than 1.5 percentage points. She will have won by a wider percentage margin than not only Al Gore in 2000 but also Richard Nixon in 1968 and John F Kennedy in 1960.”

You can flip that and see that Trump was such a weak candidate it took decades of scheming and an extraordinary international roster of powerful players to lay the groundwork that made his election possible. Defeating Clinton in the electoral college took the 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act by Republican appointees to the supreme court. It took vast Republican voter suppression laws and tactics set in place over many years. It took voter intimidation at many polling places. It took the long Republican campaign to blow up the boring bureaucratic irregularity of Clinton’s use of a private email server into a scandal that the media obediently picked up and reheated.

It took James Comey, the director of the FBI, using that faux-scandal and his power to stage a misleading smear attack on Clinton 11 days before the election in flagrant violation of the custom of avoiding such intervention for 60 days before an election. It took a compliant mainstream media running after his sabotage like a golden retriever chasing a tennis ball. It took decades of conservative attacks on the Clintons. Comey, incidentally, served as deputy GOP counsel to the Senate Whitewater committee, that fishing expedition that began with an investigation in a messy real estate deal in Arkansas before Bill Clinton’s presidency and ended with a campaign to impeach him on charges related to completely unrelated sexual activities during his second term.

It took a nearly decade-long reality TV show, The Apprentice, that deified Trump’s cruelty, sexism, racism and narcissism as essential to success and power. As the feminist media critic Jennifer Pozner points out: “Everything Trump said and did was framed in a way to flatter him, and more importantly, flatter his worldview.” The colossal infomercial fictionalized the blundering, cheating businessman as an unqualified success and gave him a kind of brand recognition no other candidate had.

It took the full support of Fox News, whose CEO, Roger Ailes, was so committed to him that after leaving the company following allegations of decades of sexual harassment of employees, he joined the Trump campaign. It took the withdrawal of too many Americans from even that calibre of journalism into the partisan unreliability of faux-news sites and confirmation-bias bubbles of social media. [Continue reading…]

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How Fox News women took down the most powerful, and predatory, man in media

Gabriel Sherman reports: It took 15 days to end the mighty 20-year reign of Roger Ailes at Fox News, one of the most storied runs in media and political history. Ailes built not just a conservative cable news channel but something like a fourth branch of government; a propaganda arm for the GOP; an organization that determined Republican presidential candidates, sold wars, and decided the issues of the day for 2 million viewers. That the place turned out to be rife with grotesque abuses of power has left even its liberal critics stunned. More than two dozen women have come forward to accuse Ailes of sexual harassment, and what they have exposed is both a culture of misogyny and one of corruption and surveillance, smear campaigns and hush money, with implications reaching far wider than one disturbed man at the top.

It began, of course, with a lawsuit. Of all the people who might have brought down Ailes, the former Fox & Friends anchor Gretchen Carlson was among the least likely. A 50-year-old former Miss America, she was the archetypal Fox anchor: blonde, right-wing, proudly anti-intellectual. A memorable Daily Show clip showed Carlson saying she needed to Google the words czar and ignoramus. But television is a deceptive medium. Off-camera, Carlson is a Stanford- and Oxford-educated feminist who chafed at the culture of Fox News. When Ailes made harassing comments to her about her legs and suggested she wear tight-fitting outfits after she joined the network in 2005, she tried to ignore him. But eventually he pushed her too far. When Carlson complained to her supervisor in 2009 about her co-host Steve Doocy, who she said condescended to her on and off the air, Ailes responded that she was “a man hater” and a “killer” who “needed to get along with the boys.” After this conversation, Carlson says, her role on the show diminished. In September 2013, Ailes demoted her from the morning show Fox & Friends to the lower-rated 2 p.m. time slot.

Carlson knew her situation was far from unique: It was common knowledge at Fox that Ailes frequently made inappropriate comments to women in private meetings and asked them to twirl around so he could examine their figures; and there were persistent rumors that Ailes propositioned female employees for sexual favors. The culture of fear at Fox was such that no one would dare come forward. Ailes was notoriously paranoid and secretive — he built a multiroom security bunker under his home and kept a gun in his Fox office, according to Vanity Fair — and he demanded absolute loyalty from those who worked for him. He was known for monitoring employee emails and phone conversations and hiring private investigators. “Watch out for the enemy within,” he told Fox’s staff during one companywide meeting. [Continue reading…]

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The twilight of Fox News

The Atlantic reports: October 7, 2016, will be the 20th birthday of the Fox News Channel, and at the moment, the network is experiencing the soap-operatic highs and lows typical of any teenager on television. In many ways, the summer of 2016 may go down in Fox News history as the company’s nadir. Its founder and leader Roger Ailes has been dishonorably dispatched, the remaining executives are dealing with a flurry of sexual harassment lawsuits, and one of its most public faces, Sean Hannity, has ignominiously remodeled himself as a gutless Trump whisperer.

And yet Fox News’ fortunes are ascendant, at least in the most quantifiable sense. The network’s annual profit in 2015 soared by about 20 percent. For the first time ever, Fox News has been the most-watched cable network among both primetime and daytime viewers for several months, with a larger audience than its nominal rivals, CNN and MSNBC, combined. Led by “The O’Reilly Factor,” Fox News doesn’t just have the best-rated news show on cable television; according to The Wrap, it has the 13 best-rated news shows on cable television.

With Ailes out, the future of the network is in the hands of the younger Murdochs, who take the helm of a network that seems to be both drowning and soaring, at a time when television audiences are fleeing the big screen of the living room for other devices. The dilemma: Does Fox change course to attract a broader audience in a period of fragmented viewership, or rededicate itself to the formula of hyperpartisan infotainment that made it the reigning emperor of cable? [Continue reading…]

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Sean Hannity turns adviser in the service of Donald Trump

The New York Times reports: During major inflection points in Donald J. Trump’s campaign, the advisers, family members and friends who make up his kitchen cabinet burn up their email accounts and phone lines gaming out how to get his candidacy on track (and what counsel he might go along with).

But one person in the mix brings more than just his political advice. He also happens to control an hour of prime time on the Fox News Channel.

That person is Sean Hannity.

Mr. Hannity uses his show on the nation’s most-watched cable news network to blare Mr. Trump’s message relentlessly — giving Mr. Trump the kind of promotional television exposure even a billionaire can’t afford for long.

But Mr. Hannity is not only Mr. Trump’s biggest media booster; he also veers into the role of adviser. Several people I’ve spoken with over the last couple of weeks said Mr. Hannity had for months peppered Mr. Trump, his family members and advisers with suggestions on strategy and messaging.

So involved is Mr. Hannity that three separate denizens of the hall of mirrors that is Trump World told me they believed Mr. Hannity was behaving as if he wanted a role in a possible Trump administration — something he denied to me as laughable and contractually prohibitive in an interview on Friday.

But he did not dispute that he lends his thoughts to Mr. Trump and others in his close orbit whom Mr. Hannity has known for years.

“Do I talk to my friend who I’ve known for years and speak my mind? I can’t not speak my mind,’’ he said.

But, Mr. Hannity said, “I don’t say anything privately that I don’t say publicly.’’ And, he acknowledged, it’s unclear how far his advice goes with Mr. Trump, given that “nobody controls him.”

Mr. Hannity is unapologetic about his aim. “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States.” After all, he says, “I never claimed to be a journalist.” [Continue reading…]

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Trump stands by Roger Ailes, casting doubt on motives of women accusing Fox chief of sexual harassment

Kirsten Powers writes: Donald Trump thinks it’s “very sad” that women at Fox News are “complaining” about being sexually harassed by former Fox chief Roger Ailes.

As allegations against his old friend piled up, Trump told NBC’s Chuck Todd on July 24 that, “Some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them…And when they write books….and say wonderful things about him….[N]ow, all of a sudden, they’re saying these horrible things about him.”

Without passing judgment about the specific allegations, which are currently under investigation by 21st Century Fox, one should be able to accept that a woman could both have been promoted by a boss and harassed by him. Women are often forced to maintain good relations with men who abuse them precisely because those men have power.

When I mentioned this to Trump in a phone interview last Tuesday, he doubled down on his retrograde take. “There was quite a bit of fabulous things said [about Ailes by Gretchen Carlson],” he told me. “It would be easier for me and more politically correct for me to say you are right. But you would think she wouldn’t say those things.”

I pointed out that it wasn’t just Carlson who had made allegations. “I didn’t know it was more than just her,” Trump told me, even though his comments to Chuck Todd referred to women, plural.

What if someone had treated Ivanka in the way Ailes allegedly behaved?

His reply was startling, even by Trumpian standards. “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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Not just the editorial page — WSJ reporting on climate change also skewed

Media Matters reports: When it comes to covering climate change, it’s not just The Wall Street Journal’s editorial section that is problematic in the Rupert Murdoch era — a new study shows the paper’s newsroom has misinformed readers on the issue, too.

A new joint study from researchers at Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oslo appearing in the journal Public Understanding of Science (PUS) found major differences between the climate change reporting of The Wall Street Journal and other major U.S. newspapers. The July 30 study, titled “Polarizing news? Representations of threat and efficacy in leading US newspapers’ coverage of climate change,” examined non-opinion-based climate change articles in The Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post from 2006 to 2011.

The study found some disturbing trends in The Wall Street Journal’s news reporting on climate change, including that the Journal was less likely than the other newspapers to discuss the threats or impacts of climate change and more likely to frame climate action as ineffective or even harmful. The authors of the study concluded that, given the Journal’s conservative readership, the negative nature of its climate reporting “could exacerbate ideological polarization on climate change.” [Continue reading…]

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Mudoch’s plan to steal the presidency and install Petraeus

Carl Bernstein writes: So now we have it: what appears to be hard, irrefutable evidence of Rupert Murdoch’s ultimate and most audacious attempt – thwarted, thankfully, by circumstance – to hijack America’s democratic institutions on a scale equal to his success in kidnapping and corrupting the essential democratic institutions of Great Britain through money, influence and wholesale abuse of the privileges of a free press.

In the American instance, Murdoch’s goal seems to have been nothing less than using his media empire – notably Fox News – to stealthily recruit, bankroll and support the presidential candidacy of General David Petraeus in the 2012 election.

Thus in the spring of 2011 – less than 10 weeks before Murdoch’s centrality to the hacking and politician-buying scandal enveloping his British newspapers was definitively revealed – Fox News’ inventor and president, Roger Ailes, dispatched an emissary to Afghanistan to urge Petraeus to turn down President Obama’s expected offer to become CIA director and, instead, run for the Republican nomination for president, with promises of being bankrolled by Murdoch. Ailes himself would resign as president of Fox News and run the campaign, according to the conversation between Petraeus and the emissary, K T McFarland, a Fox News on-air defense “analyst” and former spear carrier for national security principals in three Republican administrations.

All this was revealed in a tape recording of Petraeus’s meeting with McFarland obtained by Bob Woodward, whose account of their discussion, accompanied online by audio of the tape, was published in the Washington Post – distressingly, in its style section, and not on page one, where it belonged – and, under the style logo, online on December 3.

Indeed, almost as dismaying as Ailes’ and Murdoch’s disdain for an independent and truly free and honest press, and as remarkable as the obsequious eagerness of their messenger to convey their extraordinary presidential draft and promise of on-air Fox support to Petraeus, has been the ho-hum response to the story by the American press and the country’s political establishment, whether out of fear of Murdoch, Ailes and Fox – or, perhaps, lack of surprise at Murdoch’s, Ailes’ and Fox’s contempt for decent journalistic values or a transparent electoral process.

The tone of the media’s reaction was set from the beginning by the Post’s own tin-eared treatment of this huge story: relegating it, like any other juicy tidbit of inside-the-beltway media gossip, to the section of the newspaper and its website that focuses on entertainment, gossip, cultural and personality-driven news, instead of the front page.

“Bob had a great scoop, a buzzy media story that made it perfect for Style. It didn’t have the broader import that would justify A1,” Liz Spayd, the Post’s managing editor, told Politico when asked why the story appeared in the style section.

Buzzy media story? Lacking the “broader import” of a front-page story? One cannot imagine such a failure of news judgment among any of Spayd’s modern predecessors as managing editors of the Post, especially in the clear light of the next day and with a tape recording – of the highest audio quality – in hand.

“Tell [Ailes] if I ever ran,” Petraeus announces on the crystal-clear digital recording and then laughs, “but I won’t … but if I ever ran, I’d take him up on his offer. … He said he would quit Fox … and bankroll it.”

McFarland clarified the terms: “The big boss is bankrolling it. Roger’s going to run it. And the rest of us are going to be your in-house” – thereby confirming what Fox New critics have consistently maintained about the network’s faux-news agenda and its built-in ideological bias. [Continue reading…]

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Rupert Murdoch pressured me over Europe, says former British PM

The Guardian reports: Sir John Major has claimed Rupert Murdoch demanded his government change its policy on Europe or his papers would oppose him at the 1997 general election.

The former Conservative prime minister told the Leveson inquiry on Tuesday that Murdoch delivered the ultimatum at a private meeting with the News Corporation founder on 2 February 1997, three months before the election in which the Tories lost heavily to New Labour.

Major’s claim appears to contradict Murdoch’s own evidence to the inquiry. Murdoch told Leveson on 25 April that “I have never asked a prime minister for anything.”

In his witness statement to the inquiry Major said he assumed Murdoch meant that “he has never asked for anything that would benefit him personally or his company”. “In my very limited contact with Mr Murdoch his statement is on a strict interpretation literally true,” he added.

“Certainly he never asked for anything directly from me but he was not averse to pressing for policy changes. In the runup to the 1997 general election in my third and last meeting with him on 2 February 1997 he made it clear that he disliked my European policies which he wished me to change.

“If not, his papers could not and would not support the Conservative government. So far as I recall he made no mention of editorial independence but referred to all his papers as ‘we’.

“Both Mr Murdoch and I kept our word. I made no change in policy and Mr Murdoch’s titles did indeed oppose the Conservative party. It came as no surprise to me when soon after our meeting the Sun newspaper announced its support for Labour.”

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Video: Listening in at the Leveson Inquiry

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Rebekah Brooks to be charged with perverting the course of justice

The Guardian reports: Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International, is to be charged over allegations that she tried to conceal evidence from detectives investigating phone hacking and alleged bribes to public officials.

Brooks, one of the most high-profile figures in the newspaper industry, will be charged later on Tuesday with three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in July last year at the height of the police investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced.

She is accused of conspiring with others, including her husband, Charlie Brooks, the racehorse trainer and friend of the prime minister, and her personal assistant, to conceal material from detectives.

Brooks and her husband were informed of the charging decision – the first since the start of the Operation Weeting phone hacking investigation last January – when they answered their bail at a police station in London this morning.

They are among six individuals from News International, along with the company’s head of security, Mark Hanna, to be charged over allegations that they removed material, documents and computers to hide them from officers investigating phone hacking. The charge is a serious one which carries a maximum penalty of life, although the average term served in prison is 10 months.

In a statement Brooks and her husband – who are both close to David Cameron – condemned the decision made by senior lawyers and overseen by Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions.

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Murdoch facing new challenge as U.S. senator contacts investigators over hacking

The Guardian reports: Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire is facing a challenge on a new front in the billowing phone-hacking scandal after a powerful US Senate committee opened direct contact with British investigators in an attempt to find out whether News Corporation has broken American laws.

Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate committee on commerce, science and transportation, has written to Lord Justice Leveson, who leads the British judicial inquiry into media ethics, asking if he has uncovered any evidence relating questionable practices in the US.

“I would like to know whether any of the evidence you are reviewing suggests that these unethical and sometimes illegal business practices occurred in the United States or involved US citizens,” Rockefeller writes in a letter released on Wednesday.

The development adds to the potential dangers facing News Corp, a publicly-traded company with its headquarters in New York. Rockefeller has taken a close interest in the unfolding phone-hacking saga, but it is the first time that a Senate committee member has acted in his official capacity.

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U.K. lawmakers: Rupert Murdoch unfit to lead News Corp

The Associated Press reports: News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch must take responsibility for serious failings that caused Britain’s tabloid phone hacking scandal, lawmakers said Tuesday in a scathing report — as a narrow majority also insisted the tycoon was unfit to lead his global media empire.

In a report on the malpractice at Murdoch’s now shuttered News of The World tabloid, legislators accused Murdoch and his son James of overseeing a corporate culture that sought “to cover up rather than seek out wrongdoing.”

Parliament’s cross-party Culture, Media and Sport committee unanimously agreed that three key News International executives had misled Parliament by offering false accounts of their knowledge of the extent of phone hacking — a rare and serious censure that can see offenders hauled before Parliament to make a personal apology.

The panel said the House of Commons would decide on the punishment meted out to the three executives: New York Daily News editor Colin Myler, a former News of The World editor; the British tabloid’s longtime lawyer Tom Crone and Les Hinton, the former executive chairman of News International, former publisher of The Wall Street Journal and former board member of The Associated Press.

Members of the panel said Rupert Murdoch, 81, had insisted he was unaware that hacking was widespread at the News of The World, blaming his staff for keeping him in the dark. That explanation was not accepted.

The legislators said if that was true, “he turned a blind eye and exhibited willful blindness to what was going on in his companies.”

In a ruling opposed by 4 Conservative Party members of the 11-member committee, the panel cast serious doubt on Murdoch’s credentials as an executive.

“We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company,” the report said.

The judgment on Murdoch implies that News Corp., which he heads, is also not fit to control British Sky Broadcasting, in which the company has a controlling stake of 39 percent.

Ofcom, the broadcast regulator, said it is reading the report with interest.

“Ofcom has a duty … to be satisfied that any person holding a broadcasting license is, and remains, fit and proper to do so,” the statement read. “Ofcom is continuing to assess the evidence.”

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The News Corp hacking saga

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