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This will be very short. As London burns - there are riots ringing Central London where I live tonight - and the stockmarket crash, some stunning news from Michael Wolff, Murdoch's acerbic and insightful biographer. In an Adweek article just published he drops the bombshell - something commentators here have often mentioned.

Well-sourced information coming out of the Department of Justice and the FBI suggests a debate is going on that could result in the recently launched investigations of News Corp. falling under the RICO statutes.

As you would expect, from a man whose life was almost ruined by Newscorp journalists after his excoriating, and highly informed biography, Wolff's whole article is worth reading.

Once again, let me repeat: Wolff, well connected to Newscorp insiders, has a tip that the company is being investigated under Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act as a criminal enterprise.

For copyright violation reasons I can't quote much more: suffice it to say that his libel lawyers caused him hell when he called the Murdoch family a mafia in his book. He claimed it was a metaphor of family and omerta. But now he can divulge it wasn't just a metaphor:

Here is where the RICO logic comes in. The usual path of a criminal investigation follows the crimes back to the source—that’s what happened to News Corp. in the U.K. when the royal family discovered that its voice mail messages were appearing in the press. But in a RICO investigation, you are really following the ethos and methods of operation of a group or organization to the crime. In other words, criminal activity is not seen as an isolated or particular event—as News Corp. has desperately and unsuccessfully tried to portray the crimes that occurred in the U.K.—but as an established pattern of conduct.

As it happens, much of this pattern of conduct at News Corp. has long been hiding in plain sight. How the company has gotten away with such behavior is, in fact, a subtext of the investigations that are now unfolding.

As I said, I've got to go out into the riotous London night. I'm sure I'll be safe - the targets are property not people - but getting around might be a problem.

Once I'm back I'll update with any other links you have.

Originally posted to Brit on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 11:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by Media Watch.

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