Friday, July 8, 2011

The media and government oversight: have no fear, the fox has been placed there to take care of the chickens

As Richard Nixon would tell, if he could, it's not the crime that will bring you down, but the cover-up. In the case of the phone hacking scandal in the U.K., one distressing fact is that the cover-up has been perpetrated not just by News Corp. but by Scotland Yard and even the Press Complaints Commission, the entity that is supposed to be the self-regulating authority for the media.
As word spreads that News Corp. has been involved in the deleting of evidence, and that Scotland Yard has now raided the offices of The Daily Star, one has to wonder whether the public can depend on their elected officials and those empowered to enforce the law to actually conduct an effective investigation – especially when many of those same officials owe their positions to the same media company being investigated.

Like a mafia don that has the police on their payroll, News International paid money to the police for information, and to others in the form of hush money.

The financial impact of this scandal is growing every day for News Corp. Today, Renault, the French car maker (remember them?) has come and announced that they will not be advertising in any News International newspapers "despite the publisher's decision to close the News of the World," reported Brand Republic.

"As a result of the seriousness of the continued allegations of phone hacking by News of the World, Renault is reviewing its media advertising plans, pending the formal investigations," the company said in a statement. "We currently have no advertising planned in any News International press titles in the immediate future."

AdWeek yesterday, its new headline font designed to be read from 50 feet away, said that ad buyers here in the U.S. are expressing concern over the phone hacking scandal. (Shouldn't Michael Wolf buy new contacts rather than have the rest of us have to deal with one sentence web pages?)

But reading the story one can see that there is no "there" there. Each ad agency person quoted in the story expresses minor concerns but none said they are pulling any advertising, and some even come right and state that they believe there should no concern about News Corp. properties. The same company that proclaimed that there were death panels in the new health care law is apparently a very legitimate place to place their advertiser's money.