The Murdoch Stasi
Posted by Charles II on August 17, 2011
One of the things that is most troubling about the United States is that it is possible for a corporation to keep a person from working–and reduce them to destitution– purely because they have annoyed the corporation. How can the American people call ourselves “free” or a “democracy,” if people work under the sword of Damocles known as blacklisting?
Ed Pilkington, The Guardian:
Five years ago Robert Emmel was enjoying the American dream. He lived in a detached house in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, drove a BMW, and earned $140,000 a year as an accounts director in a highly successful advertising company called News America Marketing.
Today, Emmel is described by his lawyers as destitute. Jobless and in debt, he was discharged from bankruptcy last year. …
This is a cautionary tale about what can happen to someone who dares to become a corporate whistleblower. Or, more specifically, someone who incurs the wrath of News Corporation, the media empire owned by Rupert Murdoch, of which News America forms a part.
News Corp has devoted the efforts of up to 29 lawyers to pursuing Emmel personally, at a cost estimated at more than $2m. Emmel, by contrast, has relied on two lawyers, Hilder and Marc Garber in Atlanta, working for no pay since January 2009.
Attention has been focused on News Corporation’s activities in the UK, where the News of the World phone-hacking scandal has led to the arrest of 10 people associated with the company. In the US, oversight of News Corp is gathering pace …
Emmel was one of the main witnesses for Floorgraphics at a subsequent trial against his old company. He worked for News America for seven years from 1999 to 2006, turning whistleblower in his final year there.
He alleged that News America was engaging in “criminal conduct against competitors” and using “deceptive and illegal business practices” to defraud its retailer customers out of money owed.
Emmel provided documents to a Grassley staffer, Nicholas Podsiadly, who told him that the Judiciary Committee was considering making a referral to DoJ… and apparently did nothing. Emmel has survived the constant pursuit by News America and been exonerated of wrongdoing at every stage. Now, as it becomes ever more clear that Emmel was an honest citizen trying to report a crime by a criminal enterprise, this country needs to step forward and support him.
There are too many people like Tom Emmel in this oh-so-free country. One goal of our efforts at reform must be to ensure that corporations–or the government itself–never again have the power to deprive a person of work, especially when that person is trying to stop lawbreaking.
As an aside, Scott Horton has another blockbuster story about Alabama Governor Bob Riley abusing the power of his office, just as he did in the Siegelman case, to falsely accuse people of crimes in order to achieve a political objective.
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