Could libel laws be the cause of the phone-hacking scandal?

There’s a question that’s been obsessing me for the last few days about Britain’s sensational phone-hacking scandal, and it’s the question “Why?” Why did editors and their journalists break the law systematically in their desperate competition for scoops? And why — we hope — did it not happen here?

For me the answer to the second question is easier. I’m in the camp that believes that the tabloid picture is so different here, compared to the national tabloids in the U.K., that their influence here is far less than their British counterparts. Although let’s not forget that it was the National Enquirer that in 2007 broke the story about John Edwards’s affair that eventually led to his withdrawal as a presidential contender. Secondly, the relationship between newspaper proprietors and politicians cuts across political boundaries in Britain, enhancing the magnates’ clout, whereas here — apparently — they do not cross the aisle.


Republicans should return Murdoch's campaign donations

Every Republican organization or candidate who received campaign donations since 2006 from Rupert Murdoch should return those campaign donations in full.

The Justice Department should initiate a preliminary investigation to consider whether the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or any U.S. law, was violated during this escalating and repulsive scandal.

The investigations should be full and fair but Republicans should return the tainted money now, in full.


Rupert Murdoch and the end of fear

The tide has turned against Rupert Murdoch, the world’s most powerful media mogul, who is in London trying to salvage a deal under which his conglomerate News Corp. would merge with the British pay-TV operator BSkyB.

Until now, the political classes in Britain had seemed paralyzed by fear of the man who could control their destiny with a single tabloid headline in the News of the World or The Sun. He is courted by prime ministers of every political stripe, from Tony Blair to the current PM, David Cameron.

In 1998, Blair questioned Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi about broadcasting legislation planned in Italy as Murdoch sought to expand his business empire. Cameron appointed Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World — even then under a cloud for phone hacking of the royal family, which was attributed to a “rogue” reporter — as his communications chief. Coulson is now under arrest and it has emerged that while he was editor, the police were allegedly paid for information.


Sarah Palin sucker-punches mainstream media with emails

I am still laughing at this. Certain personalities on television looked like they were going to cry on air when Palin looked good after the emails were released! Wow, she sucker-punched the suckers! Who did they think would be deciding which emails were disclosed and which were redacted?

My guess is there were redacted emails that were not pretty, but of course they would be redacted. So heavy breathing before the release humiliated pundits after the release, because if they were honestly reporting, they would have to say Sarah Palin looked great by what was released.


The continuing war against Sarah Palin and Nikki Haley

From Washington Post coverage of Sarah Palin’s email cache: “Palin, who since coined the phrase ‘Mama Grizzlies’ to warmly describe female conservatives, wrote an impassioned e-mail to an aide in March 2008 about criticism of female politicians: “ ‘they’ said the same thing throughout my career — ‘too young’, ‘pregnant’, ‘kids’ . . . ‘She won’t be able to do it’ . . . This coming from good ol’ boys who don’t like change . . . And so far along in my career we’ve proved them wrong at each turn.”

The good ol’ boys who don’t like change brought their women with them when they went after Palin in 2008. They also went after South Carolina’s new governor, Nikki Haley, with even more venom, reviving Old South strategies used effectively during Jim Crow.


Joke's on the press corps after Palin email witch-hunt turns up zilch

It was the biggest non-story story in Washington since Al Gore’s global warming tirades. I’m talking about the release of thousands of emails of former Gov. Sarah Palin last Friday in Juneau, Alaska. The release of emails (printed on paper) had reporters forming lines the lengths of which made the O.J. Simpson trial look like a queue at the local Dairy Queen.

News outlets such as The Washington Post publicly heralded their “read 'em here first” status. Never mind that no reporter had actually spent any time and bothered to read them. The editors just wanted to get the “full coverage” mantra out in order to light up the Google tote board.

That was Friday. By Saturday, a shocking revelation ripped through the nation’s headlines: Palin had a third email account! Oh, the political tremors that were felt then! No lie, folks. That was the headline, if you weren’t following. Surely, there would be something more salacious to uncover, no? I have three email accounts. Does The Washington Post want to put a dozen reporters on the case?


Gutter journalism at Newsweek

If you ever needed a reason for why news magazines are starving for attention and consumer dollars, just stroll down the aisle of your favorite supermarket and you can judge this industry by its cover(s) alone. They’re pathetic. They continually fight against their very core to deliver cutting-edge journalism that compiles the top stories of the week, and instead look increasingly like their neighboring World Wrestling Entertainment pubs.

I couldn’t believe what I saw last night while in my area bookstore. I had heard about Newsweek’s controversial cover of Mitt Romney, and a colleague remarked how “tasteless” it was, but it didn’t hit home until I actually saw it.

There on the cover I saw some gangly body with the head of Mitt Romney photo-shopped on top. The idea was to borrow a theme from the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon” and affix some political twist with a back-handed compliment that all those darn Mormons are just so successful these days … What gives?? As if anyone outside of Manhattan would pick up on such stupidity.


Ed Schultz fights for working women and working men

First, of course, the comments Ed Schultz recently made about Laura Ingraham were tasteless and offensive to women. There is no doubt about it. A strong and humble apology by Ed was required, and given, and accepted by Ingraham. Good.

What I want to emphasize here is that Schultz is one of the most committed fighters anywhere in the media for working women and working men. Day after day, month after month, year after year, Ed has championed jobs for Americans, better healthcare for Americans and equal justice for Americans.


Netanyahu, Perry, Trump and Palin

Did MSM really think that Donald Trump would go away because an elderly correspondent called him a “racist”? How did it work out back in June 2009, when David Letterman called Sarah Palin a “slut”?

Donald Trump, interviewed by Neil Cavuto this week, had the same steam in his walk. He came across with ideas that are not coming up with the usual “establishment” candidates. They are powerful ideas, and they are ideas that will be heard and taken seriously.


MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell: A cable star with substance

Don't miss the Friday Washington Post profile of MSNBC's primetime host Lawrence O'Donnell, whom I would call the prime time star with substance. I told someone at MSNBC recently that I was going to write a piece similar the Post's. I'll give kudos to the Post (a rarity for me) for beating me to the punch.

What makes O'Donnell so good? Above all, when he lambastes the right, and Fox News, he does so from a position of substance based on his long high-level experience. He usually avoids the "why the left hates the right,” "why the right hates the left” and the latest gibberish from politicians and insiders that makes so much of "cable news" so similar to when one makes love to oneself with one's pitching hand.