Update (below): Rep. Peter King (R-NY) joins call for News Corp. probe
The parent company of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal may soon face federal investigations in the U.S., if two Democratic Senators and a group representing the families of 9/11 victims have their way.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) said Wednesday he would like to see the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission probe News Corporation to determine whether company officials spied on American citizens, including the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
The call echoes that of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who said last night that if global media mogul Rupert Murdoch's employees targeted Americans in their phone hacking scandals, "the consequences will be severe."
They were also joined by 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters & World Trade Center Victims in calling for a probe to determine if Murdoch's employees mined their personal information for stories.
“It’s hard enough for people to deal with the 10th anniversary and now this – it just adds more salt to the wounds," Sally Regenhard, who chairs the group and lost her son on 9/11, told Politico.
"The limited information already reported in this case raises serious questions about the legality of the conduct of News Corporation and its subsidiaries under the [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act]," Sen. Lautenberg said in an advisory. "Further investigation may reveal that current reports only scratch the surface of the problem at News Corporation. Accordingly, I am requesting that DOJ and the SEC examine these circumstances and determine whether U.S. laws have been violated."
British officials have already announced an investigation into News Corporation, after it was revealed they targeted the royal family, high ranking U.K. politicians, celebrities, a murdered girl and terrorism victims, among others.
The scandals were of great enough intensity as of Wednesday morning that they derailed the company's $14 billion buyout of British Sky Broadcasting, in which Murdoch already owns a minority stake.
While it is not clear if Murdoch's U.S. media properties participated in these efforts, Wall Street Journal publisher Les Hinton is said to have been involved as the former chief of News International, which oversees Murdoch's British newspaper holdings.
Update, 3:55 p.m. EST: Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has joined the call for a U.S. criminal probe of News Corp., making him the first congressional Republican to do so.
“As I see it, I would expect more things to be coming out over the next several weeks,” King reportedly told Politico. “And as we approach 9/11, the tenth anniversary, it’s even going to get worse.