The Other Shoe Drops for News Corp

What a fascinating miscalculation. In Britain, the Daily Telegraph is going hard against Rupert Murdoch and his various minions and underlings. When your competition is belly up, screaming for help, and about to be consumed by the government and the elite, publish early and often. The Daily Telegraph has so many threads that it is following with regards to the News Corp scandal that it's hard to keep track of them all.

In any event, the involvement of Jude Law doesn't surprise me. Law's personal life has, much like Hugh Grant's personal life, been popular fodder for the British media. This heightened interest in his personal life mirrors that of people like David and Victoria Beckham and Cheryl Cole, who were probably hacked as well. What is shocking is that News Corp's people in Britain figured it would be a good idea to do this in the United States. As an aside, have you ever noticed how many prominent Britons have ended up living in places like California and New York? Do you think it might have been because they were tired of being hounded by the tabloids (not just Murdoch's tabloids, of course).

America's First Amendment protections are the sort of thing that would normally protect Murdoch's people, but, in this case, there is very little hope that the First Amendment would protect them from prosecution if it can be proven that they compromised an American telecommunications network and broke Federal wiretapping laws.

This gets to a larger point--in this country, you can count on being able to break various laws and enjoy a First Amendment protection if you can prove that the public had a need to know whatever it was that you were trying to publish. This happens almost all of the time with classified information. If the Justice Department prosecuted everyone who leaked classified information to the American public, we wouldn't have anyone who could handle classified information anymore. Various news outlets find protection from prosecution because they operate in the public interest and publish classified information because they can claim, and in many cases rightly so, that the interests of the American public knowing something are more important than the need for government secrecy.

That protection ends when you start trying to figure out who Jude Law's been fucking this week. The public doesn't have a need to know. Nobody needs to know. But News Corp needed to have stories that would titillate the British public and, apparently, they figured chasing Law into the United States in order to find out was a smart thing to do.

I'm curious to see where this goes. I'm thinking it won't end well if it turns out that News Corp really did chase after Jude Law's personal life in New York.