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Cheers - AE

Friday, 15 July 2011

Us too! Us too!!

In one of the more bizarre forms of international keeping-up-with-the-G7s it seems like it might become the in thing to have a pressing need to investigate and possibly re-regulate your media. So in America, despite there having been no suggestion that the NotW or anyone else not-hacked the phones of the victims in the ten years since the World Trade Centre attacks, the FBI is investigating to see if anyone from Murdoch's News Corp attempted to not-hack the phones of the victims of the World Trade Centre attacks.

Now, in the immediate aftermath there was a lot of confusion and some estimates of the number of dead were as high as ten thousand, more than five times what it turned out to be. Nobody knew who was missing, who was dead and who was lucky enough not to have been anywhere near the place after all, and in all that confusion and not really knowing it seems like use of the NotW style not-hacking voicemails would have been much trickier than the 7/7 bombings in London in 2005. I might be wrong but I can't help thinking that the identities of the dead in an incident that killed so many more people... well, where would you even start? Supposedly someone from the NotW tried to bribe a cop or an ex-cop for phone records, but that seems a little odd. If it happened in 2001 or maybe 02, which is when it would have been newsworthy, then how come it's only now that we're hearing about it? Time heals and despite this being a huge injury you have to think that had phone-not-hacking etc of the dead been going on, ignoring for the moment the practical difficulties of not knowing who's dead (and therefore not knowing the phone numbers either), the level of outrage would have been far greater then than it is now. So why make the allegation nearly ten years later and only after it turns out that it was done after a later terrorist incident, one with far fewer dead whose identities emerged much more quickly and, being in the city where the NotW is based, seems likely to have been a much easier proposition as far as getting those phone numbers goes.

On the other hand if this is supposed to have taken place more recently then you have to wonder about the sanity of the NotW still playing the same games when they'd already been caught once and were under the spotlight. You'd also have to wonder at how slow a news day it must have been to go on that kind of fishing expedition perhaps five or six years on and, if they were going to do the not-hack of voicemails again, whether there'd even be anything there after all that time. Obviously the idea is out there now and of course it needs to be looked into but if I was a betting man I'd put a few dollars on it being all smoke and no substance. Still, if a government with a constitutional obligation not to interfere with press freedom wanted to be able to move in that direction, even if only temporarily, then a nice bit of public outrage against the media generated by the judicious poking of a still unhealed wound could be just the ticket. Not saying that the US government is behind the claims or even that they have such an agenda, but the US government is a huge entity with many people working in it and many things it doesn't want to discuss - anyone believe that not one single person has thought 'Just a minute, this could work in our favour'? Anyone? Anyone at all? No... ? Yeah, me neither.

But the US are not alone in wanting to give their media a bit of a shoeing, and so inevitably there's to be an investigation down here in Australia as well.
THE Australian media faces a sweeping parliamentary investigation into its ownership, regulation and ethics after Julia Gillard yesterday left the door open to an inquiry into print and broadcast companies.

The Prime Minister indicated she would consider Greens leader Bob Brown's call for a wide-ranging Senate investigation into media practices in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal in Britain.
Translation: the bloody media have embarrassed us parliamentarians often enough and if we can't use this to bring the bastards to heel then I reckon we can at least get our pound of flesh, what do you say?

The thing is that Gingery Dullard, unlike the Yanks, may have rather more cause to investigate the Aussie media. And interestingly it's not the Murdoch owned mob but their competitors, the Graun friendly, lefty-loving, phone-hack hating Fairfax group, who have been accused of being up to no good.
THE editor-in-chief of The Age, Paul Ramadge, has refused to detail his personal involvement in the newspaper's unauthorised access of an ALP database now being examined by the Australian Federal Police.
And how did this happen?
The Age accessed the database from its own computer terminals using an unauthorised password provided by an undisclosed source.
"This story came through entirely appropriate journalistic methods," Ramadge said. "Entry to the ALP database came via a whistleblower who raised concerns about private information held on it.
"This whistleblower had authorised access to this material and we reported in the public interest."
The Age used material obtained from the database to inform a story run in the final week of the Victorian election campaign about Labor keeping a "secret" file on citizens. Several people whose details were accessed were contacted by the newspaper before publication. Others, such as Mr Faris, were contacted after publication and assured their information would not be stored or misused.
Okay, so they may have had good reason but it sounds like it's fair to ask the question. And even if they have good reason if they commit a crime in the process does it somehow un-crime it? I'm not sure a good reason would let me off something as trivial as a speeding offence - actually I'm pretty sure it wouldn't - so I can't help thinking that if a crime has been committed with good intentions it's probably still a crime and that there'd be a case to answer. If there is, and I stress 'if', then it's for the judge and jury to take any claims of good intentions into account. In the meantime they seem to be in a glass house and might be advised to drop the stones.
Barrister Peter Faris QC, one of a group of high-profile Victorians whose personal details were accessed through the database by The Age, described the newspaper's actions as "very close to corruption and criminal conduct."
"The Age has covered up this incident and it is a bit rich that they now lead the charge to criticise the Murdoch press in Australia," he writes in The Australian today.
The Age has denounced the phone hacking by News of the World reporters, which prompted News International, the British arm of Rupert Murdoch's global media interests, to close the paper. It has given front-page prominence to the story every day this week.
Quite. Motes and beams, fellas, motes and beams. This has been the Angry Exile bringing this information to both his readers (hi Mum).

Because it'll be little short of a fucking miracle if you see it in The Guardian.
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