14 Nov. 2007

Chez Murdoch: Corruption All The Way To The Top

[SEE UPDATES BELOW]

This one has it all. From the New York Times via TPM:
Judith Regan, the book publisher who was fired by the News Corporation last year, asserts in a lawsuit filed today that a senior executive at the media conglomerate encouraged her to mislead federal investigators about her relationship with Bernard B. Kerik during his bid to become homeland security secretary in late 2004.

The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik’s mentor, who had appointed him New York City police commissioner and had recommended him for the federal post...

Ms. Regan had an affair with Mr. Kerik, who is married, beginning in the spring of 2001, when her imprint, ReganBooks, began work on his memoir, “The Lost Son.” In December 2004, after the relationship had ended and shortly after Mr. Kerik’s homeland security nomination fell apart, newspapers reported that the two had carried on the affair at an apartment near ground zero that had been donated as a haven for rescue and recovery workers.

Mr. Kerik, who said he had withdrawn his nomination because of problems with his hiring of a nanny, was indicted last week on federal tax fraud and other charges.
Kerik is now in very deep do-doo. And Regan is no saint. But there is no reason to believe she is lying about how News Corp operates.

Get this:
The News Corporation controls a variety of media outlets worldwide, including Twentieth Century Fox, The New York Post and the Fox News Channel, where Ms. Regan was once host of a talk show.

The Fox News Channel’s coverage of the presidential race has been a topic of some discussion within rival campaigns because the channel is directed by Mr. Giuliani’s friend of 20 years, Roger Ailes. But the network has strongly defended the balance of its coverage under Mr. Ailes, who served as media consultant to Mr. Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign in 1989. Mr. Giuliani, as mayor, later officiated at Mr. Ailes’s wedding.
Meanwhile, Rupert is telling Kevin Rudd to keep Aussie troops in Iraq:
"On the ground in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we are at the point of saying, 'You have almost won it, you see this out,'" he said.
When it's time for the post-Howard investigations, Rudd should declare war on Murdoch.

UPDATE: Looks like Bush knew about Kerik's mafia ties:
Kerik's indictment last Thursday indicates that the White House was dealing with bigger problems: Kerik's ties to the mob.

The centerpiece of the indictment was Kerik's acceptance, from 1999 through 2000, of $255,000 worth of apartment renovations (including a marble rotunda) from executives with Interstate Industrial Corporation, a company with ties to the Gambino crime family...

In the thick of the vetting process, the White House was asking Kerik about his ties to Interstate.
Kerik hurriedly withdrew his nomination for Homeland Security Chief after receiving a string of embarrassing questions from The New York Daily News, which he never answered.

Now, if Kerik was closely tied to the mob, then Rudy Giuliani is also tied to the mob. And if News Corp executives are (still!) actively pushing the Kerik-Giuliani barrow, then at least SOMEBODY IN A SENIOR NEWS CORPORATION POSITION IS A MAFIA ASSET.

And these mafia ties go all the way to the White House.

UPDATE: There was more than one News Ltd exec involved. From The Independent:
"According to Ms Regan, executives at News Corp became nervous about what she might tell federal investigators about her former boyfriend if they asked. One executive, the suit says, told her to lie if necessary. Another told her "not to produce clearly relevant documents in connection with the government's investigation of Kerik".

"Defendants were well aware that Regan had a personal relationship with Kerik," the lawsuit says. "In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organisation told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani's presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik."

A spokesman for News Corp said the claims against the company were "preposterous"."
And Jeff Bercovici has some good thoughts on who Regan's anonymous #1 News Corp "senior executive" might be:
1)"Senior executive" has heretofore unrevealed dirt on Regan that she doesn't want him to reveal.

2)"Senior executive" has already agreed to testify; Regan's leaving him anonymous so that he can take the stage in a dramatic, Perry Mason-esque climactic gesture.

3)"Senior executive" doesn't exist. That was the opinion of one former News Corp. official I discussed this with. "Otherwise, why are you protecting this person who put you in a such a bad position?" he wondered. "It just doesn't make sense."

Neither does committing perjury. But does anyone have a better explanation?
From the comments:
"Maybe it is because Regan wants to force a settlement in exchange for not revealing the name?"
Given that Regan was on a dinner-dating basis with Herr Murdoch himself, it is not unreasonable to suppose that he is the anonymous official in question. In which case she gives herself a lot of leverage by not naming him.

UPDATE: Even more from Salon, investigating Murdoch's (highly mutual) support of Giuliani. Just one example among many:
Fox News was launching, with Ailes at the helm, and Time Warner, which provided cable service to 12 million homes nationwide, had decided it would not carry Fox News. Time Warner was the dominant cable operator in New York City, meaning that not only would 1.1 million city homes not get Fox, but the fledgling network would go unseen by media powerbrokers in the nation's media capital.

Three days after Murdoch learned of Time Warner's decision, a call from Ailes to Giuliani set in motion a series of unprecedented moves in favor of a cable network by the Giuliani administration. As calls and meetings continued between Fox and city officials, including Giuliani, the Giuliani administration reportedly threatened Time Warner executives with the loss of their cable franchise if the cable provider didn't accept a deal in which the city would give up one of its own government channels so Fox News could take the slot. (Some 30 other cable networks had tried and failed to win channel space on Time Warner.) When Time Warner refused to take the deal, the city announced that it would go ahead with the plan anyway and force the cable provider to carry Fox News.