Fox News Confirmed Doing Less Coverage of News Corp. Cell Phone Hack Scandal

The News of the World pre-texting / cell phone hacking scandal resulted in that popular tabloid being closed down, and the scandal is hitting the United States, as well, with calls for an FBI investigation of parent company News Corp., but one thing is certain: Fox News, whose parent company is News Corp., is showing its loyalty by staying mum on the matter.

In fact, Senator Frank Lautenberg called on the Department of Justice to investigate News Corp for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA.) Lautenberg was joined by Senator Boxer, who also asked for the FCPA investigation. The FCPA states that bribing official in other countries, not just the U.S., is illegal. News Corp., in reference to its News of the World subsidiary, has already admitted such. Perhaps Rupert Murdoch was not aware of what he was admitting to.

Under the FCPA, Murdoch and some of his employess company—particularly son James Murdoch and former executive Rebekah Brooks (who resigned as chief executive of News Corp.'s British newspaper unit on Friday), could be found guilty of U.S. crimes. Penalties for FCPA violation are quite stiff. Those found guilty could play up to 20 years in prison. The company, as well, could face up to $30 million in fines.

That said, Fox News Watch, which is a media watchdog program, bent in the extreme right wing direction of Faux News, has completely avoided the issue. However, the show posts "Behind the breaks" videos which feature panelists' discussions during Fox News Watch's commercial breaks. In one of those, Fox News' Cal Thomas asks, "Anybody want to bring up the subject we're not talking about today" and adds, "I'm not going to touch it."

CNN covered the story, and here is the exchange between Wolf Blitzer and reporter Brian Todd.

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BLITZER: The British media scandal involving Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has apparently put FOX News in a bit of a bind. The network has apparently gone out of its way to avoid a lot of reporting on its parent company's troubles. That may become even more obvious in the days to come.

Let's check in with Brian Todd. He's been looking at this story for us.

Clearly, they're doing some reporting on it, but by no means as much as most other news organizations.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It doesn't appear to be that, Wolf. There have been several questions raised in recent days about the extent to which Rupert Murdoch's news entities have covered the "News of the World" scandal. Questioned fuelled in part by a clip from the FOX News program about the news media, that program called "Fox News Watch." We're going to show you a clip from this past Sunday.

This is streaming video. It's meant for the public, but it's during a commercial and not part of the broadcast. Panelists are talking about a certain news story. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody want to bring up the subject we're not talking about today for the streamers?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, go ahead. I'm not going to touch it.

UNIDENTIFIED FeMALE: With a ten foot turban (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Now, it might may seem obvious they're talking about the "News of the World" scandal. We've confirmed that's what they were talking about.

We did a search of FOX transcripts to double check. Despite the fact that "FOX News Watch" is about the news media, we found no mentions of the "News of the World" scandal on that program, no mentions of "News of the World" at all since August 2006.

Now, as for the broader FOX News Channel coverage, it does appear to have been more extensive than that, obviously. "The L.A. Times" does report that FOX News stayed mainly silent on the scandal during prime time on Thursday. That's when it broke that Murdoch was shutting down "News of the World."

We found several mentions of the story on FOX News Channel over the past week, including one reporter piece. That's compared to the other major news networks where coverage was fairly extensive.

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Quoting Todd, "no mentions of "News of the World" at all since August 2006." That's pretty clear evidence, since this pretexting issue has been around for a long time, that News of the World has been off-limits, and it's pretty clear that Murdoch sent down the edict. We'll see if lack of discussion on Fox's media watchdog does anything to protect Murdoch and cohorts if a true investigation goes through.

You can watch video of the report, below.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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