It appears the phone hacking scandal occupying the UK's news pages for the past few months may have been merely the preliminary act. The main event could well be the graft and corruption probe that now seems to be linking the Sun newspaper to numbers of Metropolitan Police officers and other public officials.
Which brings up a very unpleasant prospect, one that News Corporation officials have been dreading. Since Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World in the wake of the Leveson phone hacking inquiry revelations, will even more damaging arrests and charges force him to close the Sun, too?
Discovery of a massive bribery ring centered at the Sun could make such an action mandatory via pressure from News Corporation executives in New York. That city is no stranger to police corruption scandals. And with an ever-widening mess here, it seems only a matter of time before a serious probe in launched across the pond.
Since many top level Murdoch executives, including his son James, would love to dump the UK newspapers anyway, Murdoch could be asked to renege on the assurances to the Sun staff. The fact is all UK national newspapers have been on a slow decline for decades. The Sun now has a bit more than half its peak 4.3 million circulation of the early 1980s.
"Anything is legal as long as you can get away with it." I heard that bit of capitalistic wisdom as a kid and how it resonates now in the UK.
For quite some time several people in the news media and in public offices were doing just that... getting away with it and many didn't feel they were doing anything wrong.
As one phone hacking suspect said, "We were just having a bit of fun."
A main aspect of this growing fiasco is it uniqueness to Britain. Even if they do uncover some corruption of this sort in America, I doubt it will be on a UK scale.
There are three main reasons for this.
1. The UK arguably has the world's most competitive print news media.
2. One man, no matter how talented, can't effectively and efficiently personally control and worldwide media empire.
3. Cell phone technology has outpaced its security.
The competitive pressure that has long been part of the UK national print media. Couple this with News International executives so pumped up and full of themselves they felt anything was worth a story.
But the gravity of the phone hacking side of these scandals is that these criminal acts weren't done to uncover corruption in government or protect the population. They were mainly about personal issues that had no business being made public.
So, after News International admitted some of its people were guilty of obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, lying and criminal intrusion, we now know those were just for starters.
Now Murdoch is in London trying to keep the lid on things and assure the Leveson inquiry and the Metroplitian Police's own probe, that he's in 100 percent behind them, which is the same thing he told the Sun staff.
Since strong and ethical leadership sets the stage for an entire company, its obvious the news executives at News International have a lot of answer for, including why some received such hefty severance packages for what one Murdoch offspring claims they did to wreck the company.