Hack this, Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch is in trouble and a whole lot of folks are delighted. They are practically drooling at the mouth that the downfall of Fox News could be around the corner. Members of Congress are calling for an investigation into allegations that the Murdoch-owned News Corp. may have committed criminal acts in the U.S. by hacking into the cell phone voice messages of 9/11 victims. In Britain, News of the World, a Murdoch tabloid, was shut down and the heads of editors are rolling. It seems at the highest levels in Mr. Murdoch's British news empire, there was complicity in this hacking scandal. Private investigators were employed. Scotland Yard was bribed to look the other way. The cell phones of members of the royal family and other celebrities were systematically hacked. But even that did not satiate the journalists involved. They hacked into the cell phones of one young murder victim and many victims of terrorism.

It seems today, instead of meeting dark and shadowy figures in hidden alleys to track down scoops, journalists need only to hack into voice mails or engage in the same rogue behaviors as governments to mine the secret lives of people. I laugh at the sanctimony of the British government and its members of parliament who keep carrying on about the monstrosity of this hacking, and I do not buy their pitiful piety about the sacredness of the privacy of ordinary citizens. It took just one Osama bin Laden for the West to fall to its knees and promulgate a whole lot laws to violate the privacy of its citizens. From wiretapping to torture, from rendition to the Patriot Act, bin Laden left the West with a tragic legacy of outrageous violations of privacy, decency and justice, all in the name of security.

Many journalists are in bed with the very authorities they are supposed to examine, defy and criticize. That cozy relationship has taken journalists far from ethical practices. Self-examination is all but absent in journalism, and recrimination, hand wringing and retribution rule when corruption is exposed.

Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are. If your friends are politicians, and if you are cozy with the men in government, then eventually their ethics will rub off on you. The tactics of Mr. Murdoch's minions are an imitation of the ways of government and an extension of the appalling intrusion of government and corporations in our daily lives That Mr. Murdoch will now be felled by governments and politicians is nothing short of delicious irony.

Usha Nellore, Bel Air

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