United States, Washington: Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp. participates in a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing about immigration on September 30, 2010 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Mark Wilson)
Rupert Murdoch’s crumbling media empire officially has a body count.
Sean Hoare, former News of the World reporter and the first to make public claims about illegal phone hacks conducted by News Corp was found dead in Hertforshire, UK this morning, BST time.
British police were directed to a body in Hoare’s house earlier today, and though they have not officially confirmed his identity, it is thought to be the former News Corp employee who also worked for some time at the Sun.
Hoare came clean to The New York Times and the BBC recently, alleging that he was explicitly asked by his bosses to hack into phones. Only last week he told the Guardian that reporters would use complicated technology to “ping” the cell phone locations of sources to track down specific locations of them within minutes.
Police have commented so far that the death is not believed to be suspicious, though it does come at incredibly poor timing as allegations of wrongdoings against News Corp continue to break seemingly by the minute.
Following accusations of hacking the voicemail of a 13-year old murder victim and casualties of the September 11 attacks, the latest charges surfacing against News Corp come from one former executive that says Rupert Murdoch’s own employees were prey to their privy little privacy violations.
Former Fox News exec Dan Cooper took to the Web years ago to try to expose the illegal practices he helped run during his tenure at the news outlet. In a daunting exposé, Cooper wrote at length about how his higher-ups linked his telephone number to records obtained through the News Corps’ “Brain Room” that he helped make himself.
“Most people thought it was simply the research department of Fox News. But unlike virtually everybody else, because I had to design and build the Brain Room, I knew it also housed a counterintelligence and black ops office. So accessing phone records was easy pie,” wrote Cooper.
Years after he first asserted to the illegalities coming out of the New York City headquarters of News Corp, his essay is being re-circulated as the mass media, the FBI, the US Senate and investigators across the world dig deeper into a massive probe poking into the atrocities enacted by Murdoch and Co.
In a recent piece in Rolling Stone, the music mag also delves into the top-secret Brain Room, noting that the vast, windowless expanse operates out of a subterranean bunker in the heart of Manhattan. “It’s where the evil residents,” says Cooper.
It’s been over three years since Cooper first asserted that he was dropped as a client from his former manager after Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes pressured him to do so. Ailes, Cooper claims, obtained phone records through the Brain Room that linked him to a conversation with a reporter from New York magazine that Cooper had spoken to for an article on Ailes on the condition on anonymity.
Confusing? Most of it is. But it’s causing not just a headache for the public but for Murdoch himself.
As allegations escalate and investigations become more and more severe, Murdoch has now hired world-class attorney Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. to represent him in the States, though no charges have formally been filed against him yet. Sullivan boasts himself as a “high-profile criminal” litigation attorney that typically represents Fortune 500 companies involved in criminal investigations, and the Washington Post once said that having him on your side was “the legal equivalent of nuclear war.”
At this point it might be safe to say that Murdoch is shaking in his monopolistic, Australian boots.
While News Corp faces allegations of illegally obtaining the voicemails of a teenage murder victim in the UK, attempting to bribe the NYPD for access to 9/11-related information and now this, the media empire is eroding fast for Murdoch. In the few weeks since info first leaked, a handful of News Corp’s elite have already resigned.
The New York Times adds that, in the US, Cooper’s assertions aren’t the first against Fox’s parent company for hacks. New Jersey-based Floorgraphics called out News Corp for illegally infiltrating their password-protected computer system, to which Murdoch responded by simply buying out the company.
The Times adds that News Corp has forked over more than half a billion dollars in recent years in settlement and hush money to keep illegal behavior under the rug.