Monday, August 8, 2011

Murdoch Thuggery and Long-term Links to Joel Klein - and Bill Gates too

None of this suggests that Mr. Klein cut some sort of a deal that resulted in a job 14 years later. But the speed of the antitrust decision surprised even the people involved in the takeover. One of the participants, who declined to be identified discussing private negotiations, said he thought the sale was effectively blocked before the surprising turnaround.  - David Carr, NY Times, Aug. 8, 2011
You just have to read this article in today's NY Times about how Joel Klein handed Rupert Murdoch a cupcake 14 years ago when he was at the Justice Department. Carr points to another decision made a year later against  Murdoch. Just cover as far as I'm concerned.

As it turns out, a News Corporation division has twice come under significant civil and criminal investigations in the United States, but neither inquiry went anywhere. Given what has happened in Britain with the growing phone-hacking scandal, it is worth wondering why.
Both cases involve News America Marketing, an obscure but lucrative division of the News Corporation that is a big player in the business of retail marketing, including newspaper coupon inserts and in-store promotions. The company has come under scrutiny for a pattern of conduct that includes below-cost pricing, paying customers not to do business with competitors and accusations of computer hacking.
News America Marketing came to control 90 percent of the in-store advertising business, according to Fortune, aided in part by a particularly quick and favorable antitrust decision made by the Justice Department in 1997. 
Now it gets better
The deal would make News America Marketing the dominant player in the business and, for that reason, the San Francisco field office of the Justice Department recommended to Washington that the News Corporation’s takeover bid be challenged on antitrust grounds. Typically, such a request from a field office would carry great weight in Washington and, at a minimum, delay the deal for months.
But the Justice Department brass overrode San Francisco’s objections and gave its blessing in just two weeks. So who ran the antitrust division at the Justice Department at the time? Joel Klein, who this year became an executive vice president at the News Corporation, head of its education division and a close adviser to Rupert Murdoch on the phone-hacking scandal in Britain.

Carr goes on to point to the decision a year later denying Murdoch the right to sell a share of his satellite company and states:
so any suggestion that a department of the United States government was snugly in the hip pocket of Mr. Murdoch would not be correct. 
Balderdash. I'm increasingly proud of having said early in the Joel Klein tenure as chancellor of the NYC schools that one day he would be doing a perp walk with his coat over his head. (Come on, where are the photoshop guys?) I know, I know. I hugged the guy. Contradiction? Not at all. I'll bring him cookies in jail.

As many of you know, Klein pushed Wireless Generation into NYC schools. Murdoch buys the company, hires Klein as consigliare. We need 2 coats over heads at the perp walk - 2 for the price of one. Did Murdoch play a role with Bloomberg to  insert Joel Klein as his Manchurian Candidate to lead the potential goldmine known as the NYC school system?

You can catch up to the story at these links I culled from Gotham:
Teachers unions want the state to kill a contract with Wireless Generation. (Daily NewsWNYC)

By the way, there is a petition (see below) urging the State Comptroller to deny this contract - I think it was approved by the PEP but might be brought up again by speakers at the Panel for Educational Policy on Aug. 17 (weds) 6pm at Murray Bergtraum HS which will vote a contract with Verizon, another corporate thug. I think Liu approved for some reason - makes me nervous about him - fear of alienating Murdoch?

Now let's turn to the more general thugery of the Murdoch operations as described in the current issue of Rolling Stone.
But the corruption exposed at the News of the World is not the work of a "rogue" element within News Corp. — it's a reflection of the lawless culture that defines the company. As CEO, Murdoch not only tolerates employees and executives who push the boundaries of legality and good taste, he celebrates them — at least until the cops show up. "There's a broader culture within the company," Col Allan, editor of Murdoch's New York Post, crowed in 2007. "We like being pirates." Whatever veneer of integrity News Corp. may have accrued after its purchase of The Wall Street Journal the very same year masks an ingrained corporate ethos that believes integrity is for suckers. The attitude passed down from the top, says one veteran of Murdoch's tabloids, is aggressive and straightforward: "Anything we do is OK. We're News Corp. — so fuck you and fuck your mother."  ----Rolling Stone
How far did the Murdoch culture pervade Tweed under Klein? And I view the WSJ as just a more literate version of the NY Post with biased reporting when it comes to education, at least. I told a reporter from WSJ who wanted to know more about the GEM high stakes testing committee that the other day. Haven't heard back. My sense is that the WSJ would start with the premise that somehow union money was behind it. Or maybe terrorists who want to undermine the ed deform economy on which Murdoch/Klein are looking to make big bucks.

More from the RS article:
Indeed, an examination of Murdoch's corporate history reveals that each of the elements of the scandal in London – hacking, thuggish reporting tactics, unethical entanglements with police, hush-money settlements and efforts to corrupt officials at the highest levels of government – extend far beyond Fleet Street. Over the past decade, News Corp. has systematically employed such tactics in its U.S. operations, exhibiting what a recent lawsuit filed against the firm calls a "culture run amok." As a former high-ranking News Corp. executive tells Rolling Stone: "It's the same shit, different day."
These are just little bits from the must-read Rolling Stone piece. Remember the affair between Bernie Keric and Murdoch employee Judith Regan. Get all the juicy details including how Murdoch scum Roger Ailes obstructed justice - how about a perp walk for 3?

Thanks to a blogger who would usually do a smashing job on this story but is a bit tied up and sent me the links and commentary below:
Klein helped Murdoch out 14 years ago with an antitrust deal.  Smells crooked (though he did rule against Murdoch in a later deal.)

Here's the Times story:

Was Klein on the Murdoch payroll long ago?  Hmm....
The dominos are starting to fall into place with the Murdoch story here in America.  Rolling Stone has some malfeasance at the NY Post in this piece here:


The more they dig, the more they will find that what News International did in Britain, they did here in America too - hacking, bribery, conspiracy to subvert justice, etc.

And Klein is at the middle of it.

Sign our petition vs. no-bid contracts for Murdoch's Wireless Generation!

Also at the NYC Parent Blog:
“As part of our contribution, the [Gates] foundation took an important first step a few weeks ago and selected a vendor to build the open software that will allow states to access a shared, performance-driven marketplace of free and premium tools and content. That vendor, Wireless Generation, will create the software, but it will be owned by an independent nonprofit, so that any school, school district, curriculum developer, or tool builder can contribute to the collaborative.”Really, did it really have to be Wireless Generation?  But why doesn’t that surprise me?

UPDATE: note  the words"free and premium content,"  something I had not originally noticed but was pointed out by Dr. Ed Fuller on his blog here.  So Wireless Gen and Murdoch are poised to make a buck off of this project -- and the content they receive from teachers, who are expected to share their ideas free of charge? 

Unholy alliance between Murdoch, Klein and Bill Gates? "Pretty cool" huh?

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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