LONDON — Rupert Murdoch and his son James agreed Thursday to appear before United Kingdom lawmakers investigating phone hacking and police bribery, while in the United States, the FBI opened a review into allegations the Murdoch media empire sought to hack the phones of Sept. 11 victims.
Those two developments — and the arrest of another former editor of a Murdoch tabloid — deepened the crisis for News Corp., which has seen its stock price sink as investors ask whether the scandal could drag down the whole company.
Murdoch defended News Corp., saying it will recover from any damage caused by the scandal. The 80-year-old told the Wall Street Journal — a News Corp. property — that he is "just getting annoyed" at all the recent negative press. He called the suggestion that he would sell his British newspapers to stem the scandal: "pure and total rubbish."
A law enforcement official in New York said the FBI was looking into allegations that employees of News Corp. tried to hack into the telephones of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. The official said that the decision to step in was made after U.S. Rep. Peter King of New York, Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and other members of Congress wrote FBI Director Robert Mueller demanding an inquiry.
The allegation that Murdoch papers may have targeted 9/11 victims came from the rival Daily Mirror, which quoted an anonymous source as saying an unidentified U.S. investigator had rejected approaches from unidentified journalists who showed a particular interest in British victims of the terror attacks. It cited no evidence that any phone had actually been hacked.