The phone hacking scandal that has plagued the U.K. and gripped the attention of the world could really come home here in the U.S. now. News Corp is an American corporation, and while the entire hacking scandal has been solely in the U.K. (as far as we know), the U.S. does have laws against what News Corp is accused of:
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp could face probes by U.S. authorities for possibly violating bribery laws, compounding the media mogul’s problems after a phone-hacking scandal in Britain.
The Obama administration has significantly stepped up enforcement of anti-bribery laws in the last two years, winning big settlements from the likes of Daimler AG and BAE Systems Plc by focusing on bribes they paid to foreign officials to win lucrative contracts.
Bribes for business have represented the bulk of these anti-bribery cases brought by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is unclear whether U.S. authorities would use scarce resources to probe News Corp over bribes allegedly paid to British police and other officials for information that became news scoops.
This would be huge if it actually happens. Some might claim that the law can’t be enforced since the alleged crimes happened in another country, but that isn’t the case. A prime example is child sex laws. Fly over sees to rent a 14 year old hooker and once back in the U.S., you can be arrested. This is something that has been on the books and successfully prosecuted for years.
Of course this also means that the Murdoch supporters on the right will soon cry political-foul. It’s already starting. Here’s how Drudge is pushing this story right now:
While the headline is technically correct, it does make things sound much more sinister. It’s not that the Obama administration will be targeting Murdoch – it’s that they are looking at enforcing the laws of the land that News Corp possibly violated. But this is how it starts. Before long wingnuts will pick up on the headline and quickly twist the story into some first amendment violation of News Corp by Obama himself. We’ve seen it before and soon we will see it again.