What Murdoch's media empire did: the big picture

Alternet's Russ Baker goes beyond the individual sins of the Murdoch media empire -- the phone hacking and such -- and looks at the big picture: what has the Murdoch empire done to the world?
He has undermined liberty: His outlets led the drumbeat for restriction or elimination of certain fundamental rights, including those under the US Fourth Amendment, while at the same time supporting unrestrained wiretapping, the harsh treatment of suspects who may have done nothing wrong, and fueling panic justifying the build-up of the national surveillance state.

He has turned the public against the press. By the generally inferior product produced, with a few exceptions, by the majority of the news outlets he controls and the tawdry methods sponsored by many of them, he has eroded the public’s confidence in media in general, tarnishing its belief even in those outfits whose work deserves to be taken seriously. He has also used his outlets to convince the public that other, more conscientious news organizations are ideologically suspect and biased.

What Rupert Murdoch Means For You Personally (via Making Light)

Daily Show episode yanked from UK TV because Brit law prohibits using Parliamentary footage in satire

Graham Linehan (co-creator of such beloved TV as Father Ted and The IT Crowd) asked Channel 4 why they hadn't aired the most recent Daily Show in the UK, given that the episode deals with the News of the World scandal. The answer he got floored him: as it is against the law in the UK to use Parliamentary footage for satirical purposes, the Daily Show episode in question couldn't be aired here.

The issue is Parliamentary Copyright, a weird concept in UK law that gives Parliament (not the public) ownership over its publications, utterances, and so on. Parliamentary copyright means that it's illegal to print books containing complete records of Parliament without Parliament's permission (contrast this with the US, where anything produced by the federal government is presumptively in the public domain, belonging to all people).

We tend to think of Parliamentary Copyright as a kind of innocuous peccadillo -- after all, the Clerk of Parliament gave a license (retroactively) to the activists who made They Work For You, the best-of-breed Parliamentary tracker and activist tool. But this shows what happens when politicians, and not the people, own the record of government: Britons are denied access to commentary on their national news because there's no way an American TV show will know or care enough about Parliamentary Copyright to get a license to use clips in its shows in case the shows are exported to the UK.

Get a load of this ridiculous thing I found the fuck out last night

Murdoch-detector browser add-ons warn you when you're reading Murdoch-tainted news

Two new browser plugins are here to help you with your Murdoch-detecting needs: Murdoch Block is a Chrome extension that warns you when you're about to visit a news site controlled by the Murdoch empire and gives you the chance to turn away before the phone-hacking, ethics-lacking propaganda meets your eyes; and Murdoch Alert puts a helpful warning bar at the bottom of your browser whenever you land on a Murdoch-controlled news page. New Firefox Add-on Warns You About The Dangers Of The Murdoch Propaganda Machine (via Reddit)

Life in Rebekah Brooks's newsroom

Disgruntled former News of the World employees are starting to anonymously gossip about the working conditions in Rebekah Brooks's newsroom. A lot of it is what you'd expect -- bullying demands for unwavering loyalty -- but the business of the reporter with the Harry Potter beat is just beyond the pale:
At Rupert Murdoch's tabloids, refusing to play ball meant being pushed to the sidelines. One reporter who said he went through that was Charles Begley, News of the World's Harry Potter correspondent in 2001 when Brooks was its editor.

The then 29-year-old reporter said he wore a Harry Potter costume to work and officially changed his name to that of the fictional boy wizard, all part of the paper's attempt to tap into the Pottermania sweeping both sides of the Atlantic.

On Sept. 11, hours after the fall of the Twin Towers, Begley was stunned to be chewed out by News of the World management for not wearing his costume. He said he was then ordered to attend the next news meeting in full Potter regalia.

Shaken by the demand, Begley never showed up, and soon afterward parted ways with the paper.

With Brooks arrested, tabloid insiders open up (via Reddit)

Brooks husband tries to reclaim mystery computer found in trashcan near home

The husband of former News of the World editor and Murdoch lieutenant Rebekah Brooks tried to claim possession of a computer, papers and cellphone discarded in a trashcan near her home today. He claims it is his computer, not hers, and that he "left the bag with a friend" who "dropped it in the wrong part of the garage" where the bin is. Someone handed it in to garage security, which gave it to police. From The Guardian:
Detectives are examining a computer, paperwork and a phone found in a bin near the riverside London home of Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of News International. ... It is understood the bag was handed into security at around 3pm and that shortly afterwards, Brooks's husband, Charlie, arrived and tried to reclaim it. He was unable to prove the bag was his and the security guard refused to release it.
Losing your computer in the trash immediately after your wife's arrest on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications? Really? Police examine bag found in bin near Rebekah Brooks's home