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07.11.11

Will Congress Investigate Murdoch?

A watchdog group wants to know whether Americans were victims in the phone hacking scandal

The scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World has remained safely on the other side of the Atlantic—until now.

A Washington watchdog group on Monday asked Congress to investigate whether journalists at the British division of Murdoch’s News Corp. have hacked into the voice mail of Americans.

The request by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) comes as the Guardian is reporting that another Murdoch tabloid, the Sun, obtained confidential information from former British prime minister Gordon Brown.

“It is becoming increasingly clear this scandal was not perpetrated by a few rogue reporters, but was systematically orchestrated at the highest levels of News Corp.,” Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, said in a statement.  “If Mr. Murdoch’s employees can be so brazen as to target the British prime minister, then it is not unreasonable to believe they also might hack into the voicemails of American politicians and citizens.”

The Mirror has published a story in which an unnamed former New York City police officer claims to have been offered money by News of the World to access the phone records of 9/11 victims and their families. The story suggested the now-shuttered tabloid was mainly interested in British victims.

Murdoch’s detractors would like nothing more than to shift the investigative spotlight to such News Corp. properties in the States as the New York Post and Fox News.

“Given the ever-increasing number of Murdoch publications involved, combined with the allegation that News Corp. journalists sought access to the voicemails of 9/11 victims and their families, America cannot leave this investigation entirely to the British,” Sloan said.