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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Murdoch takes beating in report
that vanishes from the internet

Rupert Murdoch's hold on his British television firm
came under intense new pressure with the release of a scathing parliamentary report on the phone hacking scandal.

Murdoch and his son James should be "prepared to take responsibility" for a pattern of misconduct by company employes, the report said, adding that Parliament may wish to consider issuing a formal rebuke for contempt of Parliament, a move so rare in modern times that its use would carry added political impact.

Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party has drawn withering fire over evidence that Murdoch and his top aides had undue influence at top levels of the British government. Conservatives refused to endorse the culture committee report, but this doesn't mean Murdoch's troubles are over.

Jack Welch, former head of GE, which owns NBC, quickly vouched for Murdoch's fitness to run the television company, BSkyB, which under British law would be precluded if Murdoch is found unfit for such responsibility.

Welch may have been responding to an appeal from Murdoch that media owners should circle their wagons to fend off an assault on media rights; media owners, particularly in the United States, have long followed such an unwritten protocol, similar to the "blue wall of silence" employed by police officers.

As this reporter was working on this story, it appeared as though hacking was going on in an attempt to disrupt fact-gathering.

For example, a copy of the culture committee report was found online but vanished by the time this writer returned to the site. Use of Google and other search engines then proved fruitless in obtaining access to the report. Parliament's web site was also devoid of a link to the report.

Links to the report in two Guardian stories were met with:

"Sorry - we haven't been able to serve the page you asked for

"You may have followed a broken link, an outdated search result, or there may be an error on our site. If you typed in a URL, please make sure you have typed it in correctly. In particular, make sure that the URL you typed is all in lower case."

Before access was denied, two passages were copied from the report:

"The integrity and effectiveness of the Select Committee system relies on the
truthfulness and completeness of the oral and written evidence submitted. The
behaviour of News International and certain witnesses in this affair demonstrated
contempt for that system in the most blatant fashion. Important lessons need to be
learned accordingly and we draw our Report to the attention of the Liaison Committee
which is considering possible reforms to Select Committees.

"We note that it is for the House to decide whether a contempt has been committed
and, if so, what punishment should be imposed. We note that it makes no difference—
in terms of misleading this Committee—that evidence was not taken on oath.
Witnesses are required to tell the truth to committees whether on oath or not. We will
table a motion inviting the House to endorse our conclusions about misleading

Coroner's poisoning death troubles Brietbart fans
It could takes months to get a final determination on the cause of death for Los Angeles County coroner's official Michael Cormier, who officials said appears to have died from poisoning, the LA Times blog LA Now has reported.

This possibility caught the attention of a number of bloggers, who noted that conservative commentator Andrew Brietbart's sudden death had been examined by Cormier (a statement that Newz from Limbo has not verified).

Brietbart dropped dead of "natural causes" after proclaiming that he would air videotapes extremely damaging to President Obama's re-election chances. After his death, one such tape -- showing a youthful Obama embracing a man identified as a communist -- was aired by Fox News.

Brietbart had broken a big media protocol of silence -- in place since Sen. Joe McCarthy's political downfall -- wherein virtually no mention of communist activities or connections inside America is permitted. Those who break the protocol face retribution from "the system."  Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News have been ambivalent about this protocol, generally honoring it but permitting -- for a limited time -- commentators such as Glenn Beck to break the silence, as long as they don't perturb the powers that be excessively.

The LA Times reported that law enforcement sources said that finding the presence of poison does not necessarily mean the death was a homicide because the substance could have accidentally entered his system. According to sources, arsenic was one poison being examined as a potential cause but stressed that no final determination has been made.

Hospital staff notified police about concerns surrounding the cause of Cormier's death, the Times said.

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