Tag Archives: Rupert Murdoch

Justice Delayed — For Most

Three recent news stories got me thinking about access to the justice system in this country and how it changes according to the value people — primarily taxpayers  and those who should be paying taxes but find ways to not — place on it, public policy and the ability of people who want or need access to pay for it. First is a story about two divorce filings, one in New York, the other in Los Angeles. The New York divorce was initiated by Rupert Murdoch, whose filing reportedly says, “the relationship between the husband and wife has broken down irretrievably.” He’s calling it quits with China-born, Yale-educated Wendi Deng, his wife of 14 years, whose fierce presence at his side — including her slapping a cream pie-tossing Murdoch non-fan — achieved prominence during 2011 UK Parliamentary hearings into asserted malfeasance of his news holdings in Great Britain. In Los Angeles, Miley Cyrus parents Billy Ray and Laeticia “Tish” are ending their nearly 20-year-union. Billy Ray Cyrus, Rupert Murdoch both headed to divorce court: Favorite People  http://www.oregonlive.com/celebrity-news/index.ssf/2013/06/favorite_people_16.html My guess is that both divorces will slide smoothly through the courts and be finalized expeditiously. The second story  is about the Los Angeles court system where one of those divorces was filed. It says 511 court employees are being laid off and others demoted in yet round of another bone-hacking budget cuts, thanks to California’s a years-long campaign to decrease court funding, as a result of the state’s devastating budget woes in the first decade of the 21st Century.

L.A. County Court to complete elimination of 511 court-related jobs Friday  http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_23447474/l-county-court-complete-elimination-511-court-related This after other deep cost-cutting measures.

A South L.A. gang intervention and prevention worker said when the Kenyon Juvenile Justice Center was one of eight regional courthouses slated for closure as part of dealing with an $85 million shortfall, that he worried about how that would affect not only the youths the Center serves, but crime rates. “If you shut these courts down,” [the worker] said, “where’s the justice going to come from? It’s going to come from the street.”
Court closure expected to mean trouble for at-risk youths  http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/21/local/la-me-court-protest-20130422
The third story concerns a bill Florida governor Rick Scott signed into law, called the “Timely Justice Act”, “requires governors to sign death warrants 30 days after the Florida Supreme Court certifies that an inmate has exhausted his legal appeals and his clemency review. Once a death warrant is signed, the new law requires the state to execute the defendant within six months.” Scott, in defense of the law, said it will “’fast track’ death penalty cases” and “’discourages stalling tactics’ of defense attorneys and ensures that the convicted ‘do not languish on death row for decades.’”
Gov. Rick Scott signs bill to speed up executions in Florida  http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/14/3451849/gov-rick-scott-signs-bill-to-speed.html

This in the midst of ongoing allegations that Florida has the most abysmal record in the country of defense attorneys for capital punishment defendants http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/497/this-week?act=6#play.
And never mind that dozens if not hundreds of death row inmates have been exonerated years and even decades after their convictions.
So, yes, access to justice can certainly be capricious in the U.S.

FCC Should Be Fair to Public, Not Murdoch

So Rupert Murdoch wants a “fair hearing” for his application to be allowed to buy the Los Angeles Times, even though doing so would violate FCC rules barring corporations/individuals from owning more than a certain number of news outlets in any given area.

Jon Stewart Rips Rupert Murdoch For Interest In LA Times http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/29/jon-stewart-rupert-murdoch-la-times_n_2980849.html?utm_hp_ref=media

My question is, why? What’s so special about Rupert Murdoch that he should be allowed to violate the law? Or be above it? Or not have to comply with it? Or be given a path around it?

The Daily Show‘s  Jon Stewart pretty much nailed it when he pointed out that Murdoch is, “petitioning the government to circumvent the media consolidation laws that ‘were created with him in mind.’”

Stewart Torches Rupert Murdoch For Trying To Get Around Media Monopoly Laws ‘Created With Him In Mind’ http://www.mediaite.com/tv/stewart-torches-rupert-murdoch-for-trying-to-get-around-media-monopoly-laws-created-with-him-in-mind/

Murdoch’s News Corp. already owns two Los Angeles TV stations. He might argue that because L.A. has at least three other major commercial English language TV stations, owning the Los Angeles Times wouldn’t create a monopoly. And he might even hold up New York City as an example.

Murdoch owns two New York-area  TV stations and a newspaper, the New York Post. Even though the FCC granted his petition for a waiver so he could own those three news companies, one huge difference between Los Angeles and New York is that Los Angeles, for all intents and purposes, has only one major daily newspaper and that is the Times. The New York Post isn’t that city’s major daily newspaper–far from it. The New York Times is. And even though the Post, which is a shiny-object, hyped-headline tabloid, isn’t the largest daily in New York, that city has other daily newspapers — the New York Daily News and Newsday are two besides the Post and the Times.

It’s bad enough for a large metropolitan area to be served by only one daily — or any publishing frequency — newspaper, but to further shrink residents’ and workers’ options with a single company or individual owning not only that paper, but two or more other news outlets does not benefit anyone except the owner and results in a less informed populace. I know. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I live, has only one daily newspaper which is owned by the same corporation that owns one of the four major TV stations and perhaps the most popular radio station. That corporation has a decided editorial point of view and it shows.

Another factor that should be paramount to the FCC as a government agency is that the government needs the news media as much, maybe even more, than the media need the government. That is because commercial news outlets are the primary means available to the government to get important information to the public.

During my years with the Los Angeles courts, an ongoing challenge was to get information to people. The information more often than not concerned programs that benefited court users — or would if they knew about them, hours of operation, jury service, and so much more. At the time, a number of news organizations were available.

Add to Murdoch’s request for a “fair hearing”, is the odorous trail he has strewn across the landscape, particularly in the UK where one of the newspapers he owned there shut down with the editor under suspicion of the unethical, if not illegal — that’s yet to be determined — hacking of private citizens’ and public figures’ email and telephones.

Why in the world would the FCC give special preference to someone with that kind of track record? That agency should to what it was created to do, serve the people. Not clear the way for an already megla-billionaire to further enrich himself at the expense of Southern Californian’s access to a variety and diversity of news sources–unless the commissioners’ have bought into that SCOTUS distortion that in this country money is speech. If so, that money/speech is becoming decidedly obscene.