Will News Corp face investigation in the US?

A Senator has called for practices of Murdoch's US journalists to be examined, raising the stakes fo

Jay Rockefeller, a key Democratic senator and chairman of the Senate commerce committee, has called for the authorities to investigate whether journalists at Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation targeted US citizens. In a written statement, he said:

I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated.

The reported hacking by News Corporation newspapers against a range of individuals -- including children -- is offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics. This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken US law.

Rockefeller is the first significant figure in Congress to call for an investigation, and his intervention adds weight to the growing ranks of pressure groups demanding one.

Jodi Seth, chairman of the Senate sub-committee on communications, told the Daily Telegraph that an inquiry is currently unlikely:

We're keeping an eye on the situation, but are not planning on looking into it at this time. For now, all that is certain is that there was hacking in Britain, which is outside of our jurisdiction.

But as the pressure builds, this may change. The Daily Mirror has already claimed that News of the World reporters attempted to bribe a New York police officer for access to the phone records of victims of the September 11 attacks. If this is substantiated, it will have far-reaching repercussions in the US. Republican politicians in particular have close ties to Murdoch because of his Fox News network, but it is unlikely that this would take priority over their commitment to terror victims and war veterans.

Despite Seth's statement, the very public nature of the case might eventually make it difficult for regulatory agencies to turn a blind eye, given the emphasis they place on deterrence. Les Hinton, now chief executive of Dow Jones in the US, was formerly head of News International and is directly implicated in the case. Robert Thomson, editor of the Wall Street Journal, formerly edited the Times

If the scandal continues to widen out from the News of the World, the suggestion that corrupt practices infected the whole company could make a US investigation inevitable. The Center for American Progress Action Fund, run by John Podesta, former chief of staff to Bill Clinton, is organising a petition on this basis, saying:

Although initial reports focused on the U.K. paper News of the World, recent reports suggest that this disturbing conduct extended to several other News Corp properties.

"Given the seriousness of these allegations, we ask that you immediately begin an investigation of all entities controlled by News Corp, including domestic subsidiaries such as Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post.

Yet another possibility is that the Security and Exchanges Commission (SEC), a federal regulatory agency, will look into whether News Corp has violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it a crime for any American-linked company to bribe foreign officials to obtain or keep business. This could make action on UK soil -- such as paying police officers or royal staff for information and contact details -- a criminal offence in the US.

Given that the vast majority of Murdoch's empire is made up of his US assets -- Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and 20th Century Fox -- this could be a catastrophic development for the company.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Indie band The 1975 want to “sue the government” over the Electoral Commission’s latest advert

Frontman Matt Healy perhaps isn’t aware that the Electoral Commission is not, in fact, the government (or believes that this is part of a wider conspiracy).

How do you make registering to vote in the EU Referendum cool? It sounds like something  from The Thick of It, but judging by the Electoral Commission’s latest TV ad for their new voting guide, this was a genuine question posed in their meetings this month. The finished product seems inspired by teen Tumblrs with its killer combination of secluded woodlands, vintage laundrettes and bright pink neon lighting.

But indie-pop band The 1975 saw a different inspiration for the advert: the campaign for their latest album, I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (Yes, a title perhaps even more cumbersome than “The EU Referendum - You Can’t Miss It (Phase One)”).

Lead singer Matt Healy posted a picture of the guide with the caption “LOOK OUT KIDZ THE GOVERNMENT ARE STEALING OUR THOUGHTS!!” back on 17 May. The release of the TV spot only furthered Healy’s suspicions:

Healy perhaps isn’t aware that the Electoral Commission is not, in fact, the government (or believes that this is part of a wider conspiracy).

The 1975’s manager, Jamie Oborne, was similarly outraged.

Oborne added that he was particularly “disappointed” that the director for the band’s video for their song “Settle Down”, Nadia Marquard Otzen, also directed the Electoral Commission’s ad. But Otzen also directed the Electoral Commission’s visually similar Scottish Referendum campaign video, released back in September 2014: almost a year before The 1975 released the first promotional image for their album on Instagram on 2 June 2015.

Many were quick to point out that the band “didn’t invent neon lights”. The band know this. Their visual identity draws on an array of artists working with neon: Dan Flavin’s florescent lights, James Turrell’s “Raemar pink white”, Nathan Coley’s esoteric, and oddly-placed, Turner-shortlisted work, Bruce Nauman’s aphoristic signs, Chris Bracey’s neon pink colour palette, to just name a few – never mind the thousands of Tumblrs that undoubtedly inspired Healy’s aesthetics (their neon signs were exhibited at a show called Tumblr IRL). I see no reason why Otzen might not be similarly influenced by this artistic tradition.

Of course, The 1975 may be right: they have helped to popularise this particular vibe, moving it out of aesthetic corners of the internet and onto leaflets dropped through every letterbox in the country. But if mainstream organisations weren’t making vaguely cringeworthy attempts to jump on board a particular moment, how would we know it was cool at all?

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.