The News Corp. handbook has some unintentional irony

Anarchy in the U.S.A.!

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. seems to be thumbing its nose at its critics, UK Parliament and perhaps the very idea of the rule of law, according to a certain interpretation of the tainted media organization’s ethics guidebook, released to employees of the New York Post last month in response to the PR nightmare that is the still-ongoing hacking scandal.

A close look at the 56-page “Standards of Business Conduct” — available online in pdf form at News Corp’s website — reveals one particularly suspect set of facing pages — 38-39, the left half of which proclaims the company’s  “commitment to the Global Community” and to “The Integrity of the Law,” explaining that: “Compliance with the law is crucial to the reputation of News Corporation …”

On the right side, a sneering outlaw biker from the TV show “Sons of Anarchy” (broadcast by News Corp. subsidary FX).

This is probably just a harmless juxtaposition, some page designer’s careless mistake. But if so, it’s an absurdly ill-considered gaffe, considering the company’s legal and social standings at present. Allow us to explain.

(For those who haven’t had the pleasure of watching “Sons,” spoilers follow:)

The character at right, Jackson “Jax” Teller, is a member of the titular TV biker gang, a rugged — albeit downright loveable — criminal, a professional gun smuggler and unrepentant murderer. Jax and his merry gang — a bonefied institution in the fictional town of Charming, Calif. — run their criminal enterprise with authority: Prominent  local businessmen and bureaucrats, even the town’s chief of police, are in their employ; through leverage over law enforcement and well timed tips, the Sons are able to avoid detection and escape major punishment.

Murdoch’s global news organization has been similarly dogged by allegations of police corruption: At least two upper-level British police officials have resigned in response to claims of bribery, complicity and obstruction of justice (cover-up, failure to investigate) that have surfaced following news of the scandal.

Even disregarding the salient plot details of the FX drama, the evocative image of the lone rider, exuding even at a glance a casual disrespect and indifference to authority, may not have been the best choice for News Corp.’s “Integrity of the Law” page.

So what do you think? Is the Murdoch company’s contrast of its “commitment” to “the rule of law” with a disdainful-looking criminal a purposeful snub? Or just characteristically negligent?



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