The phone-hacking and police-bribing scandal that has engulfed News Corp.’s UK operations has raised suspicions about possible similar illegal activity in the company’s American operations.
The three-year old revelations of a former executive of Fox News, a New York-based subsidiary of News Corp., suddenly take on a new light.
Dan Cooper alleged then that the Fox News network had Brain Room in its New York office, where employees were easily able to view and monitor telephone messages and conversations.
He claimed that Roger Ailes, Fox News chief executive, instructed him to design the Brain Room in order to facilitate counter-intelligence efforts and other so-called black ops.
Cooper wrote in a lengthy essay: “Deep in the bowels of… News Corp.'s New York headquarters was what Roger called the Brain Room. Most people thought it was simply the research department of Fox News. But unlike virtually everybody else, because I had to design and build the Brain Room, I knew it also housed a counterintelligence and black ops office. So accessing phone records was easy pie.
Cooper further indicated that his own private phone records were hacked by his fellow employees – such information revealed to Fox that he was in contact with David Brock, the founder of liberal watchdog group Media Matters, for a story about Fox and Ailes that appeared in New York Magazine.
Cooper was subsequently fired by Fox.
Ailes knew I had given Brock the interview, Cooper wrote.
Certainly Brock didn't tell him. Of course, Fox News had gotten Brock's telephone records from the phone company, and my phone number was on the list.”
Cooper also claimed that Ailes pressured his agent, Richard Leibner, to drop him as a client.
Both Fox and Leibner denied Cooper’s allegations at the time.
Cooper also wrote: If [I sound] paranoid, consider the man Ailes brought in to run the brain room: Scott Ehrlich, a top lieutenant from his political-consulting firm. Ehrlich—referred to by some as Baby Rush—had taken over the lead on Big Tobacco’s campaign to crush health care reform when Ailes signed on with CNBC.
The “Brain Room” was also discussed in an article in Rolling Stone magazine by reporter Tim Dickenson.
Befitting his siege mentality, Ailes also housed his newsroom in a bunker, Dickenson wrote. Reporters and producers at Fox News work in a vast, windowless expanse below street level, a gloomy space lined with video-editing suites along one wall and an endless cube farm along the other. In a separate facility on the same subterranean floor, Ailes created an in-house research unit—known at Fox News as the 'brain room'—that requires special security clearance to gain access.”
However, other sources have also accused Fox News of phone-hacking shenanigans.
In 2009, the New York Times published an article which reported that Floorgraphics, a New Jersey firm, accused News Corp. of hacking into their computer systems in order to acquire proprietary information, and then subsequently allegedly spread false, misleading, and malicious information about the company, resulting in them losing important clients.
Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch faces some serious headaches in the U.S.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice have initiated probes to determine if News Corp. hacked 9/11 victims or U.S. officials.