tv Listening Post Al Jazeera September 21, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm EDT
thousands fill the streets in new york and several cities around the world taking part in climate change marches. a peace deal has been reached in yemen, it has not stopped the violence as fighters take control of key cities in the capital. residents of sierra leone are waiting to see if a lockdown to fight the spread of ebola has been lifted. all though ahead 6:00 pm pacific. see you then.
with rupert murdoch, what starts is a probe into british tabloids owned by the news corporation lifts the vail. the cozy relationship between successive prime minister's at 10 downing street and a media skill that will are acquiring assets, skill and political power. i sat down with nick davis to discuss the story, the power of fear and the future of the murdoch media empire which lies disgraced but by know means defeated. nick davis, thanks for joining
us at the listening post today in your epilogi you write we need to shake ourselves free of this illusion, "stop the machinations occurring in truth." when have journalists on book tours been so modest? >> that's the reality is that you write about a bad thing, the bad thing will stop. whereas actually what happens and this is a class classic example, the phone hacking scandal, the people get angry and do a lot of running around shouting and carry on. so, in this particular case, we probably stopped the hacking of phones. i would think that criminal activity in british national newspaper offices has fallen from rather a high level to zero. but that's about all we've achieved. so, i just didn't want people to kid themselves that we had actually changed
what's really important about the story about rupert murdoch's abuse of power, his political power, his ability to write en the police and frighten all sorts of people. so we might have stopped a bit of crime going on newspapers, but that's it. >> i have said to people that i think this is the biggest scandal, political scandal in modern british history. the thing about this one was that it reached into so many of these british institutionsments? >> exactly. >> it was so pervasive >> yeah. do? >> it's an extraordinary story precisely as you say. it reaches into so many different parts and what that reflects is the way in which rupert murdoch's power reaches into so many different parts. so, a soon as you start looking at the crime, then you say, well, how come they got away with that crime? so in a small way, you look at the press regulations. they did nothing about it. you look at the police. they did nothing about it. the next thing is, you look into most important area, which is government. a long history of hour elected
governments, the supposedly democratic governments to influence them in a way that occurred voters have no chance of exercising that kind of an influence and you just take that lovely little idea we came up with once upon a time about one man or woman, one vote, this government works for us? and you put it in the waste bin because he is the guy with the influence. ♪ . >> that influence starts with the newspapers rupert murdoch controls, the tab lloyd, best selling weekly tabloid plus the times an the sunday times. >> amounts to roughly 4 out of 10 papers sold in the u.k. then there is sky t.v., the country's most profitable brauftnd news, sports and intrp tainment channels. the phone hacking scandal occurred mostly at the now defunct news of the world, where that story about the royal family first and in 2005. the police investigation that followed was limited but resulted in two convictions,
private investigator glen mulcare and clive goodman, both of whom did jail time. the paper and its parent company, news international went into cover-up mode saying goodman was just one rogue reporter. by 2011, its cover-up blown, news international produced an unreserved apology to the thousands of victims of hacking, including senior cabinet ministers, celebrities, football players, even agents. the company was forced to abandoned its rogue reporter defense as the evidence mounted. evidence uncovered for the most part by nick davis at the guardian. >> rest of the british news media were conspicuously silent. few parliament errands were willing to raise ition it, even some who had taken their phones hacked. police who is job it was to dig up the evidence came up so short, the two top officers on
the london force would . >> the police like a shy bride on her honeymoon, the police disclosed just a little of what they had. >> yeah. >> they clearly didn't want to investigate this thoroughly. some have since been convicted for taking news international money, bribery, being on a retainer. what-have-you. how much did the payments, passing of money, have to do with the police's reluctance to inve investigate versus their fear of news international's investigative powers because nobody would have a better idea of the power of those investigations than people who living. >> okay. if you look at the failure of the police, you are not looking at the impact of bribes. >> was something that went on quite a lot but with low-level offices, you have a bit of information about a celebrity. when you look at the failure in senior ranks of scotland yard to scandal. >> failure i think you are cutting slack.
refusal is a good word. >> yeah. what you are looking the at quite often in this sequence of events is a desire not to get into a nasty fight with this very, very powerful news organization. and if you look at that fear, it's the same way government is concerned, where police is concerned, part of it is individual fear, that this newspaper newspaper might come in and expose the sex lives of the senior officers and apart from that, there is an organizational fear that if these newspapers turn against us, they can make every day a crisis. they can just destabilize us and you put those two together, the individual fear and the organizational fear. and it generates what i call in the book a passive power. the rupert murdoch and his power don't have to say to the police, back off or else we will hurt you. the police have got the message. let's not get into a fight with these people and so, effectively, they become above the law, which is really quite a serious problem. >> you write that when asked what they did for a living, some
tabloid reporters would say, we destroy lives. the term you look is they monster people. they would expose whatever scandal, use whatever scandalous means possible to expose someone, an adulterer, to out a homo sexual from the can closet. there are tabloid newspapers all over the world. what is it in the u.k. that makes it so much worse than just about anywhere else? >> it's to do with geography and railway lines, which is that you've got a very small country here and something like 60 million people stuffed into it and ever since the industrial revolution when we built the railway network, you have been able to reach all of these 60 million people with an overnight train from london or glasgow and so you can reach them and sell them newspapers. now, that's extremely big c competitive market compared to most other countries. compare it to the united states, put a newspaper on a train at midnight in new york and have it westwards, by 5:00 o'clock, it's in the middle of anothnor. you don't have that national
market from the electronic revolution. once you've got all of these national newspapers competing for all of those readers, it means that they become much more ruthless in their quest for the story and that, in turn, means they become much more cruel so they will set themselves no boundaries in the stuff that they are prepared to do to get their story and the things that they are prepared to say about the people they are writing about. they will go right into your bedroom and say exactly what you are doing if that's going to sell them newspapers. >> for years, you were the lone voice in the wilderness on this story. other media in the u.k. did not want to know about what you were reporting about. were they as fearful of making enemies in news international as the police and the pavrl parloraria parliamentarians? >> it was for different reasons. so in the first place, too many of those news organizations are owned by rupert murdoch. it.
murdoch? >> beyond that, other newspapers were themselves engaged in similar criminal activity. >> not on the same scale? >> i would say there were other newspaper groups which were worse and have not yet been exposed. they had every reason to avoid bringing the story out. and then, beyond that, there was a political dimension to it that the guy who was the editor of the news of the world when this was going on, andy carson had gone to work for the leader of the conservative party and the conservative supporting newspapers. didn't want to embarrass cameron. reasons. media. you went offshore to find them? >> yeah. >> you went to the "new york times," handed over a big chunk of your research. >> uh-huh. >> no journalist likes to do that. but you wanted to keep some company. how important was the peace that the "new york times" did and was it the journalism that they did or was it the fact that they were essentially saying the same thing as you were under a different masthead?
>> in this whole saga, the guardian, i think we would have dropped this story at various points on the way through. it's a good story and we had given it a good bang but maybe time to move on to something else. but we couldn't because the other side were attacking us and questioning our credibility. and it was with that in mind, i think, as much as anything else that we did a very strange thing. my editor going to the editors of "the new york times" and saying, here is a good story, giving it away, and then "new york times" reporters come to london. i spent hours and hours and hours briefing them. though went and spent weeks, months, following it up and did a great job. it wasn't a conventional judgist approach. story. >> amount of people were saying this is just the guardian, you know, a lefty paper going on and on about a right-wing ideologically different newspaper, news organization whereas the "new york times" seems to be somewhat above the fray, the irony being, the "new york times" was in a fight to the death against new york city which is owned by murdoch.
>> i think it's fair to say that in asking ourselves, well, to which newspaper should we try to offer this story? it was clear that the "new york times" might be more interested in it than others because they were precisely under attack with the royal family private investigators. they do crazy things. it was good chemistry to get them involved. they went for it.
♪. >> the "new york times" didn't just report the story. it put three journalists on it, two of them winners of the pulitz pulitzer prize, the times on earth, nick davis hadn't gotten to and reinforced the guardian's contention news international's one rogue reporter defense was proving ludicrous. the times published in 2010 when the story was reaching a
critical stage politically. four months prior, david cameron's conservatives took power. cameron brought a key murdoch player with him to 10 downing street, andy coulson as his communications chief. he was the former editor of the news of the world and had resigned taking responsibility for it, he said, although he maintained he did not know it was happening at the time. but as the stories and the apparent scale of the hacking kept coming, coulson's position at the top of publish politics became untenable and five months after the "new york times" published its story on phone hacking, coulson resigned from number 10 the camron government was standing. still, the police continued to look the other way and the newspaper industry's self regulatory body, the press complaints commission, was proving itself wholly unfit for purpose ranks sanctioning murdoch's news international for criminal paralysis, the pcc had criticized the journalism of the guardian in exposing that.
breakthrough. >> this program has new revelations, stories that had nothing to do with the hacking of the rich and famous. murdoch's tabloid reporters had invaded the phones of grieving military families who had lost loved ones in afghanistan and the families of those killed in the 7-7 bombings and in the case of milly do youard, a routine age girl gone missing and would later be found murdered. when that story went to print, on july 5th, 2011, britain britain reacted with revision. not parlor, not the pcc or the other news organizations in britain could ignore it any longer. five days later, newscorp shut down the news of the world. three days after that, the company dropped its bid to buy out britain's most profitable broadcaster,
bskyb, all triggered by the dowler story. >> you said when you sentence the story in, you said i think this might be the big one. >> yes. because of the emotional impact of the story and the families of people killed in the terrorist bombs had been hacked the families of british soldiers had been hacked. those two stories hit an emotional level. they produced a revulsion and even if you previous to that point you might sit back and say, well, it's only politicians and film stars and they have thick skins and you cross a line. one of the crucial things was the millie dowler story brought emotional stories in. last. >> you went if you think earn a lot of journalists might on this story. when mark louis, one of the lawyers involved, told you that he wanted to take some legal
steps on bhafrl of certain parties but he couldn't afford the legal costs, you got in touch with max moseley, x formula one, tabloid casualty. he had a huge ax to grind with news international. you asked him whether he would pay for some of these legal going. would. >> yeah. >> he is personally a wealthy man >> yeah. >> did you have any hesitation doing that? >> no. it is definitely unusual that i was intervening in events in order to make things happen. which would then lead to the disclosure of information which i could then report the thing that made me feel okay about doing this was that i borrowed it from the memoirs of sir harry he had ones, not only probably the most successful british newspaper edit since the war but the most respected for his awareness of ethics and in his memoirs, he describes how he did a very similar thing where he got reporters to persuade someone to sue and the court
would order disclosure of material so i thought if it's good enough for harry evans, it's good enough for me. so, i set out as a tactical move to trace people who nigh had about the victims of hacking because i talked to people who worked for the news of the world to per sway them to sue, to hook them up with the lawyers becoming expert over the hacking in order to bring their cases to court so that the judge would order disclose you're of information newspaper. >> there was more evidence to come, undenormal pressure given his links, prime minister cameron ordered an investigation. they were called in to testify before the judge. the phone hackers, editors, the news barrons including two generations of murdochs and the politicians who had cur rishingd their favor and then came the
trial that was formed the final chapter in nick davis's book, it started with a piece of irony some found delicious. the prosecution revealed that andy coulson and his former boss, rebekah brooks who oversaw the destruction of so many reputations through their tawdry journalism had their reputations soiled when the prosecution revealed that the two had had an extra-marital affair of their very own despise a sizeable and expensive legal team, coulson was convicted and sentenced to jail. acquitted. >> i feel vindicated by the nam verdict. >> you wrote, pair traysing now of the trials of rebekah brooks that nowhere was the power of newscorp more evident than in that room. >> uh-huh. >> that it's corporate muscle, its money was on display and the resources, the bar sisters, the solis at this time it orders they dwarfed the state, the prosecution. given that, were the verdibilities a foregone
conclusion for you? >> okay. so i have been covering courts in london for 35 years. certainly, i have never seen a defense as well funded or as well equipped as those that were on display in the big phone hacking trial. against that, it was like a microcosm of the way the world is, the power of corporations and the weakness of the starrett, the crown prosecution service is like any part of the british public sector, underfunded but hopelessly out gunned. so that was sister-in-law an important factor in the time. i personally doesn't think that entitles us to say that the people who were found not guilty should have been found guilty. there were all sorts of other factors in there as well. people are interested in rebekah brooks. they say surely she was guilty. the reality is the evidence wasn't there to justify it. so
the most, the prosecutors would ever say was she must have known and she must have known isn't good enough. if you are going to send somebody to prison, it has to be you have to be sure. you have to know beyond regardless but on the u.s. and murdoch, there is still a legal case ongoing there under the fortunately corrupt practices act and i can remember back just at the hay day of the story a couple of years ago, there was a belief stated on the part of some statutory equipment and in the u.s. than in the u.k. and that they could do more damage there than murdock could end up suffering more serious legal consequences in the u.s. than here in the u.k. what do you think the prospects later? >> american law presents global paint company, the news core, which isn't there really in the united kingdom. >> that's because the americans have this law called the foreign corrupt practices act which
makes it annons for an american company to employ anybody anywhere in the world who pays a might be to a public official. so what's about to happen in london is you've got a sequence of trials due to take place of murdoch reporters who are accused of paying bribes to public officials. now, we don't know what the outcome of these trials will be if some millennial or all of them are convicted of paying bribes, that will trigger the f.b.i. inquiry in the united states under the foreign corrupt practices act and it may well be that you can see the parent company, news core, being prosecuted which would be very, very damaging to rupert murdoch. >> doesn't apply here in the u.k. >> the stream >> your digital community >> you pick the hot topics and express your thoughts it's your chance to join the conversation the stream, only on al jazeera america
download it now ♪ going back to the he want i logue where you say little has changed with newscorp and journalism, here is what i would suggest, the murdoch dynasty is done. success plan for james murdoch to inherit his father's chair ishit. he is a deadman presiding over meetings that don't matter. there is ugly journalism in the u.k. it will continue but nothing like what was happening or on the scale that it was happening before. 3, news of the world is history there is a sun on sunday, but the circulation figures about a million fewer readers than the news of the world happened. then there are the things that
didn't happen, murdock wanted to buy b sky b. he wanted to buy the 61% of b sky b he didn't already own. your work forced them to drop that bid. perhaps most importantlies people don't talk about that off come, the british regulate the murdochs wanted that abolished. david am cameron vowed he would abolish it. if he had, think would have had regularrations. he would have been able to turn sky news television into fox news uk. so when you add all of that up, perhaps your pessimism is a little bit misguided and your mod city, too. >> well, if we look at the part of about how the murdochs have been doing since, the dynasty, particularly lackland and james, the two sons, appears to be trying to reestablish its position within the company and people who know more about it than i do say those two lads are better place than they were 12 months ago to take over.
bigger than that, the profits of the corporation keep rising. the individual encloseses of the murdochs keys rising to crazy levels. beyond that, you will have notice add month or two ago, they bid to take over time warner. been either that what i am saying is it isn't really about one individual man and how he does it. hour. it's about living in a society in which we allow one man to become so rich and so powerful so 10 if murdoch turns around enough. i quit. it doesn't make any difference. i sell my newspapers. some middle eastern billionaire will move in or some russian oligarch and they will buy those newspapers and have exact the same amount of power murdoch did. we haven't changed the strutours which tend to be very damaging for the rest of us who were not power relief for the rest of us who like that idea about democracy and don't understand why some people should be grow
tescally rich while others are starving. nothing has changed with the big stuff. >> finally question, how is the screenplay coming along? >> there isn't a screenplay. >> why is there no screenplay? >> i don't know. it would be nice if there was a screenplay. i agree. >> you can shop it to 20th century fox, murdock studio? >> the book is being published in different countries where there are lots of different murdoch newspapers. curiously enough, not one murdoch newspaper has run a single review. isn't that depressing? not surprising. >> nick davis, good work. it's a fine book. congratulations on a big chunk of your life and what you were able to accomplish and thanks for talking to us. here is the post script. you will notice nick davis, when i asked him, how is the screenplay coming along chose his words careful. he said there isn't a screenplay and he changed the subject. the day after we recorded that interview, news came out that there will be a movie version of davis's book to be directed by
george clooney shooting is scheduled to start next year. there may well not be a screenplay yet. but there is clearly one come can. and in that respect, the truth, the whole truth has just caught up with nick davis. we will see you next time here at "the listening post." ♪ snow snow this is al jazeera america, live from new york city, i'm richelle carey, here are the top stories. hundreds of thousands march in new york city and around the globe to urge world leaders to take action on climate ch