August 22, 2011 10:31:33 PM by
In the wake of the ongoing NewsCorp scandal, some members of the media have been urging U.S. Justice Department intervention, investigation, prosecution, and dismembering of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. Last month, we wrote about Eliot Spitzer’s call for an indictment of NewsCorp under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Today, we comment on Michael Wolff’s desire to see NewsCorp face an indictment under the RICO (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act, a piece of legislation originally created with the express purpose of bringing down organized crime families.
In the article, my research assistant Daniel Schwartz and I argue that RICO has become a Frankenstein’s monster, and so it might plausibly be used to attack NewsCorp. We also point out that such an attack would have serious implications for freedom of speech and the feds’ ability to stretch vague laws to accomplish the government’s bidding. No matter Rupert Murdoch’s personality, politics, or corporate ethos, one should remember an important fact: Murdoch’s company is in the business of producing speech, and a Justice Department RICO indictment would presage a disturbing threat to the entire Fourth Estate.