In July 2011, dramatic revelations concerning misdeeds by Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World, one of the most successful tabloid newspapers in history, erupted, creating a vast media spectacle.
In July 2011, dramatic revelations concerning misdeeds by Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World (NOTW), one of the most successful tabloid newspapers in history, erupted, creating a vast media spectacle that was compared to Watergate and that threatened the existence of Murdoch’s global media empire (Bernstein, 2011).
Richard Nixon’s Watergate crisis implicated the president in a series of scandals that led to the famous Senate Watergate Hearings, a major media spectacle of 1973, followed by his resignation from office, a first for a U.S. president. The cascading scandals in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire were thus referred to in some circles as “Murdochgate” (see Bernstein, 2011), a series of outrages and crimes that are continuing to undermine his media power and empire in 2012 and the foreseeable future.
For years, there had been accusations that employees of Murdoch’s various tabloid newspapers had hacked telephones to gain information and pay police and other informers for news stories. In 2007, a News of the World reporter, Clive Goodman, and a convicted hacker, Glenn Mulcaire, were sent to jail for hacking the cell phones of members of the Royal Family, and reports surfaced in subsequent years that celebrities like Hugh Grant, Sienna Miller, and Jude Law were also hacked, as well as figures connected to sports, always an important domain of the spectacle. At the time, Murdoch and his minions claimed that the hacking was the work of a single rogue reporter and police and government inquiries accepted these claims.