How likely is a U.S. prosecution of News Corp., really? Plus, Oprah says sorry; Whitney's parting gift to CNN
11:10 am Feb. 14, 20121
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As News Corp's U.K. scandal spreads to its surviving British tabloid The Sun and, possibly very soon, to American shores via litigation based on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which would target company executives for turning a blind eye to the alleged bribing by journalists of public officials, the saga is once again beginning to dominate the day's media headlines.
Chairman Rupert Murdoch is traveling to England for damage control, a strategy in which he must appear to be weeding out any traces of corruption within his U.K. newspaper stable while also placating his increasingly restive journalists across the pond.
The later charge may prove more difficult: News comes this morning via Murdoch's own Times of London that News Corp. "has handed over details of some of its journalists' sources to police investigating allegations of criminality at its papers." And Reuters reports that the mogul "will face hostile and angry staff when he arrives in Britain this week seeking to face down a growing rebellion within his newspaper business."
On the other hand, as was noted last summer when police bribery entered the phone-hacking scandal, the exuberance over the possibility of an American investigation may be beside the point. For one thing, FCPA prosecutions tend to result from bribery of foreign officials in countries where the government is unlikely to have the power to or interest in investigating and prosecuting the crimes themselves; FCPA, as one blogger pointed out last summer, is not meant to make American justice the arbiter of all American activity abroad. The more important question is how many of News Corp.'s secrets might be right now confided in the Department of Justice, as part of a voluntary disclosure of investigation into possible corrupt practices abroad; in these cases, companies generally take responsibility for keeping the Department of Justice up to date themselves on internal and government investigations into their activities abroad. This could be a strong corrective to News Corp.'s behavior in coming months, because they'd surely like to be able to shut this all down, fast.
But next steps?
Simon Dumenco of Ad Age explores whether Murdoch should consider closing down The Sun, his U.K. print cash cow. Jeff Bercovici suggests another option: "It’s become painfully obvious of late that there’s no way to justify his continued attachment to newspapers ... The logic of a spinoff isn’t just strong—it’s impeccable."
In other news...
CNN's Whitney Houston death coverage gave the network a huge ratings boost. [Media Decoder]
Brent Lang asks why the media has "sidestepped the lurid details" of Houston's downward spiral. [The Wrap]
Oprah got into trouble with the Nielsen Company over a tweet. [The New York Times]
Some conservatives are rankled by Fox News' "course correction." [Politico]
Marc Ambinder is joining GQ as a contributing editor. [Playbook]
At CPAC this past weekend, veteran right-wing journalists encouraged their greener counterparts to do more reporting. [The Huffington Post]
Lots of "lefty media" was welcome to cover the annual conservative confab. [Poynter]
The Atlantic has kicked off a salon-style dinner series with media big wigs to add buzz to its cover stories. [Adweek]
Yahoo! may have killed his film blog back in December, but Will Leitch is taking it (in spirit, at least) over to Deadspin and Gawker. [The New York Observer]
The Associated Press has sued "clipping serivce" Meltwater News for copyright infringement. [AP Press Release]
Why The New York Times has started printing the Sunday Styles section on nicer paper. [Romenesko]
"What will Bloomberg buy next?" [Market Watch]
The Romney campaign declines to comment (quite often). [Dylan Byers]
Choire Sicha: "At least Brock doesn't wear bowties." [The Awl]
The unverified @cat_fancy Twitter account is no more. [The Cutline]
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