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2012-05-03

Free Press Co-Founder Robert McChesney: Murdoch Hacking Scandal a "Moment of Truth" for U.S. Media

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Robert McChesney, co-founder of Free Press, a national media reform organization. He is the author of several books on media and politics.

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Robert McChesney, co-founder of Free Press, calls the British report that slams News Corp. over the phone-hacking scandal a "moment of truth" for American media. News Corp. owns 27 broadcast licenses in the United States. "I think the evidence is in that we need to at least have an examination of this," McChesney. "We know he is the poster child of crony capitalism, of using his power as a media mogul to press politicians to get sweetheart deals. This has to be exposed. If it isn’t, it basically says billionaires are above the law." [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Yeah, I’d like to ask Bob McChesney—the segment we had before you came on was on the situation with News Corporation in Great Britain. Your—Free Press has always campaigned against greater media concentration, its impact on the kind of media system that we have in the country. Your sense of what’s happening in Great Britain and the recent ruling by—that Rupert Murdoch is not fit to own a major international corporation?

ROBERT McCHESNEY: Well, I think this is a moment of truth, Juan, for American media and American governance, because we clearly need to investigate Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation to see if they’re fit legally to hold 27 broadcast licenses. And I think the evidence is in that we need to at least have an examination of this. Fortunately, the Senate Commerce Committee is giving indications they may indeed follow up on the British research under Senator Rockefeller’s guidance. And there is a campaign organized by Free Press right now at FreePress.net to in fact get people to press the Senate to go ahead and seriously study Rupert Murdoch’s conduct in the United States.

The idea that he became a Brownie Scout when he crossed the Atlantic from England is absurd. In every known area of his business and professional conduct as corporate manager, everything has pretty much been identical in the United States as Britain, with the exception of the eavesdropping and the wiretapping. We know he is the poster child of crony capitalism, of using his power as a media mogul to press politicians to get sweetheart deals. This has to be exposed. If it isn’t, it basically says billionaires are above the law.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington< CREW, urging the FCC to revoke News Corp.’s 27 Fox broadcast licenses?

ROBERT McCHESNEY: Well, I think that’s where you end up, but I don’t think you’re going to get to that point without an examination, developing evidence. And I think that goes through the U.S. Senate, originally, through the Commerce Committee and through hearings there, and ends up at the FCC. The idea that the FCC, on its own, independent of Congress, is going to take those sort of steps against Rupert Murdoch, I think, is far-fetched.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for joining us, Robert McChesney, co-founder of Free Press, Justin Elliott of ProPublica. His piece, "FCC-Recquired Political Ad Data Disclosures Won’t Be Searchable." We will link to both of your websites.

It’s World Press Freedom Day. I’ll be speaking at the U.N. at 10:30 today, and this evening in New Haven, Connecticut. You can go to our website at democracynow.org to check for details.

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