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Beck......disgusting.

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The New York Times reports that Murdoch's British tabloid, News of the World, has a nasty habit of condoning its reporters hacking into the cell phones of the rich and famous in Great Britain for juicy news.

rupertmurdochjpg-895b54205a729ae4_large.Rupert Murdoch According to the Times story, the gossip that is a staple of British tabloids has the ability to end careers, thus giving British papers a great deal of power. A culture grew up that encouraged papers to hire "private investigators and others who helped obtain confidential information, whether by legal or illegal means. The illicit methods became known as 'the dark arts', according to the Times story.

In the News of the World case, two individuals were found guilty of hacking the cell phones of the royal family and went to jail. The newspaper denied that anyone else on staff was involved or did similar work. Scotland Yard, who investigated the case, chose not to look beyond the two individuals charged.

However, evidence suggests that this kind of behavior was pretty routine for many reporters at News of the World.

What's that got to do with us? The New York Times cares because it is in a battle for its life against Murdoch, who owns the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. Murdoch also owns Fox. Showing that journalistic standards are not practiced in Murdoch's empire is to the benefit of The New York Times.

walid-bin-talaljpg-8b1657abee725d00_largPrince Al-Waleed bin Talal is a Saudi Arabian who owns a 7 percent stake in Rupert Murdoch's media empire. He has also, through his foundation, offered to help pay for an Islamic center near ground zero.I care because readers frequently let me know that Fox is their source for "fair and balanced" news and information. Many folks believe that Fox gets it right and gives its viewers the truth.

Maybe what goes on at one tabloid newspaper in Great Britain is just an aberration and not indicative of a company's culture, those folks might respond.

So then we have the ground zero mosque situation which Fox has been covering. Fox reporters and pundits have been discussing the origins of the money being given to build the mosque without noting that the man giving the money, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talel, is the same guy who owns seven percent of Fox. If the guy is a known funder of terrorism, why would they want him owning and making money off of Fox? Jon Stewart has explained this much more entertainingly than I can.

The interesting thing that Stewart points out is that while Fox keeps talking about the money trail they are not mentioning any names. Why? My guess is it is because they don't expect their viewers to think beyond what they are told, so the name is left out.

Is it ethical to encourage fear about the funding behind the ground zero mosque when that funding comes from an individual who has also invested heavily in your news organization?

charles-and-david-kochjpg-e732ca5792f6e8Charles and David Koch Leaving out important names brings us to the third piece of news to emerge in the last few weeks, Jane Mayer's story, "Covert Operations," in The New Yorker. Mayer has stitched together the story of the Koch brothers, the billionaires behind a vast empire that brings in revenues of $100 billion a year, through oil refineries, pipelines, Georgia-Pacific lumber and Dixie cups among other things.

But David and Charles Koch are not content just to get rich. No, they appear to have decided to work behind the scenes to remake America in such a way as to allow them to continue to get richer without having to worry about things like paying much in taxes or dealing with pesky environmental regulations.

Quietly, they are spending millions on lobbyists to insure that nothing gets passed into law that will get in their way.

Their politics, according to Mayer, is not just right-wing Republican, they are actually Libertarian. David ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket in 1980. The platform called for the abolition of the FBI, CIA, federal regulatory agencies, the end of Social Security, minimum wage laws, gun control and all personal and corporate income taxes. It proposed the legalization of prostitution, recreational drugs and suicide, Mayer reported. It advocated that government should be reduced to one function: the protection of individual rights.

In 1980, Koch's party got 1 percent of the vote, so the family took a different tactic. It began creating think tanks and foundations which it has used to spread its ideas. It launched the Cato Institute and Murdoch has served on its board of directors. The Kochs are also behind the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Think tanks generate reports that Murdoch-owned media like the Wall Street Journal and Fox quote as expert opinion.

The Kochs created and have poured money into Americans for Prosperity, which in turn has paid for tea party rallies and efforts to disrupt health care reform. Some of its officers are also on the payroll at Fox and work with Rush Limbaugh.

mth082910dapcjpg-dc94d193a85f6455_large.View full size Finally, how does Glenn Beck fit into all this? He works for Fox, but he functions as a convenient distraction. The mainstream media is completely fascinated by him and burns up the Internet every time he says something unusual or does something out of the ordinary.

That's just perfect: While we are endlessly fascinated by his shenanigans and whatever Sarah Palin is up to this week, Murdoch and the Kochs quietly go about their business of insuring that they stay rich and in power by spending millions to attack anyone who might get in their way.   
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