No Rest for the Wicked

I’ve noticed that scandals have a tendency to only grow over time.  The more wrongdoing one encounters, the more investigation that warrants, and that has a tendency to uncover more investigation.  For the guilty, the biggest mistake they can make is to get caught in the first place, as that’s usually more than enough to start the dominos collapsing against them.

It’s rather underreported in the US, but the phone hacking scandal in Britain has caused quite a stir.  In a nutshell, employees of Rupert Murdoch owned newspapers in the UK were caught illegally obtaining information from the voicemails of numerous targets of their reporting.  It seemed to happen with the clear knowledge and blessing of the executives at the papers, and the police turned a blind eye.  Lots of people have lost their jobs over this, James Murdoch, son of Rupert, has been forced to resign some of his more significant positions within the family empire, a newspaper was closed and it has, unsurprisingly, begotten yet more investigations.  Which, naturally, are yielding more dirt, this time far more damning.

In this instance, allegations are beginning to surface that News Corp underwrote the efforts of hackers who were attempting to promote and distribute stolen, or pirated cable belonging to its rivals, throughout Australia, Italy and France.  Murdoch’s first transgression was illegal, mostly because it was just immoral.  Breaking into peoples’ personal accounts and stealing information just isn’t nice.  But when you combine that exact same kind of behavior, and it has repercussions that bring with it a price tag in the hundreds of millions of dollars range, the automatic scrutiny it engenders will be far more intense.

I think Rupert Murdoch is to news what Kim Kardashian is to culture.  I won’t deny that I take a certain degree of pleasure in watching an arrogant old man get his comeuppance, a process that’s likely to spiral beyond his waning control.  There’s a moral component to it.  To see someone who’s so blatantly disregarded the law and trampled on the rights of others finally have it catch up with him, well, the karmic balance of the universe just evened out a bit.

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