Britain's tabloid phone-hacking scandal has already destroyed Rupert Murdoch's News of the World. And with new accusations that the 168-year-old newspaper tried to hack into the phones of 9/11 victims, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) wants Uncle Sam to launch an investigation into News Corp.'s business practices. The hacking allegations raise "serious questions about whether the company has broken U.S. law," Rockefeller said in a statement, adding that if News Corp. wronged Americans, "the consequences will be severe." Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) wants an investigation, too. With Murdoch and his top brass being called upon to testify before British Parliament, and News Corp. being forced to withdraw its bid for pay-TV broadcaster BSkyB, is it just a matter of time before the U.S. government launches an investigation of its own?
Yes. These 9/11 allegations could be devastating: "The Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking scandal is slowly creeping towards American shores," says Glynnis MacNicol at Business Insider. While the allegations that News of the World journalists hacked into the voicemails of 9/11 victims is the "least substantiated" of all the charges Murdoch is facing, if true, they would "likely to be the thing that turns the American public on to this story in a big way."
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And Democrats wouldn't be sad to see Murdoch go: Rockefeller's statement is "big," says Toby Harnden at Britain's Telegraph. "It hints that other agencies — the most obvious one is the SEC — will indeed investigate." It also strongly implies that if News Corp. has hacked the phone of any American citizen, the consequences will be dire for News Corp. "Remember, the White House thinks Fox News is the epitome of evil and Democrats control the Senate." Murdoch may not have as many friends left in U.S. government as he'd like.
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The feds could redeem themselves by nailing Murdoch: "This is an opportunity for the Justice Department to show it can flex its muscles at the right moment," after failing "to pursue Wall Street with any apparent vigor" in the wake of the financial crisis, says Eliot Spitzer at Slate. Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, News Corp. employees committing criminal acts on British soil are liable in the U.S., because News Corp is an American business that trades on an American stock exchange. Scotland Yard and the British government, already been implicated in the scandal, can't adequately investigate it. The "DoJ can and should fill the void. "
"Prosecute News Corp."