Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

By Rafael Medoff

JointMedia News Service, June 11, 2012

Shmuel Zygelbojm, a Jewish member of the London-based Polish Government in Exile, played a major role in publicizing the Bund Report. Photo: Courtesy of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

Seventy years ago this month America learned, for the first time, about the systematic mass murder of Europe’s Jews—but Allied officials and some leading newspapers downplayed the news.

In late 1941 and early 1942, Western diplomats and journalists received scattered information about Nazi massacres of many thousands of Jews in German-occupied Poland and Russia. But the news was difficult to confirm and sounded to many like the usual travails of war.

The turning point came in late May 1942, when a courier from the Jewish Socialist Bund of Poland reached England with a shocking report. It began: “From the day the Russo-German war broke out, the Germans embarked on the physical extermination of the Jewish population on Polish soil.”

The Bund Report stressed that the killings were not isolated outbursts, but part of a systematic plan to “annihilate all the Jews in Europe,” town by town, country by country. The report described how in villages throughout Poland and Western Russia, German troops marched the Jewish residents to a nearby forest or ravine and machine-gunned them into giant pits. The Bund also detailed the killing of Jews in the Chelmno camp in mobile death vans—trucks whose exhaust fumes were pumped back into the passenger cabin.

Some 700,000 Jews had already been murdered, the Bund Report calculated. At a follow-up press conference in June, World Jewish Congress officials in London reported that the death toll had passed one million. (The real number was already close to 2 million.)

BBC Radio devoted several broadcasts to the story, and the London Times and other British newspapers published it prominently. The response of the American press, however, was much weaker. The Chicago Tribune, for example, relegated the news to 11 lines on page 6, and reported vaguely that the Jews had perished as a result of “ill treatment” by the Germans. The Los Angeles Times gave it two paragraphs on page 3.

The coverage in the New York Times was particularly important because many other newspapers looked to the Times—as they still do—to decide if a particular story deserves attention. On June 27, the Times buried the Bund story at the end of a column of short news items from Europe. Five days later, the Times reported on the World Jewish Congress’s press conference—but the Times diluted the news by asserting that the death toll “probably includes many who died of maltreatment in concentration camps, starvation in ghettos or forced labor” rather than mass murder.

Then, on July 4, the Times tried to pull the rug out from under the Bund Report. An unsigned news analysis, published on page 4, claimed the Jewish death toll could be anywhere “from 100,000 to 1,500,000.” The Germans “treat the Jews according to whether they are productive or nonproductive,” the Times asserted. The high mortality rate among “nonproductive” Jews was due to “starvation and illtreatment” rather than mass executions. Eyewitness accounts of mass graves with 40,000 bodies at Zhitomir “appear to have been based on hearsay.”

Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, longtime leader of the American Jewish Congress and other Jewish organizations, refrained from calling on the Allied governments to take any steps to rescue European Jews.

Meanwhile, the Allies were trying to bury the story. A few weeks after the Bund Report arrived, officials of the U.S. Office of War Information and the British Ministry of Information began meeting in Washington under the auspices of their new Committee on War Information Policy. They decided to withhold news about Nazi massacres of Jews, lest it lead to “hatred of all members of the races guilty of such actions” or provoke retaliation against American POWs.

In response to the Bund Report, the American Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith and the Jewish Labor Committee organized a rally at Madison Square Garden in July 1942 that drew a capacity crowd of 20,000. But AJC president Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and the other speakers refrained from calling on the Allied governments to take any steps to rescue European Jews. The protest was limited to expressions of sorrow over the killing, and hope for a speedy Allied victory over the Nazis.

“It is somewhat difficult to put all the blame for complacency on British and American statesmen…when Jewish leaders made no visible attempt to put pressure on their governments for any active policy of rescue,” Prof. Yehuda Bauer, of Hebrew University and Yad Vashem, has written. “The Jewish leadership could hardly plead lack of knowledge.”

Bauer blames the restrained Jewish response on doubts about the news, “loyalty to President Roosevelt,” and “fear of arousing anti-Semitism if the United States were requested to act specifically in the interest of Jews in Europe.”

Prof. David S. Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews, contends that Wise and other Jewish leaders “were still in shock—the news from Europe was so horrific, and so unprecedented, that it took time to understand and absorb it.” It would take several more months of such reports, and a grudging confirmation by the Roosevelt administration at the end of 1942, before Jewish leaders began proposing concrete plans for rescue—but even then, the struggle to bring about Allied action would prove formidable indeed.

Dr. Rafael Medoff is director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, and coauthor, with Prof. Sonja Schoepf Wentling, of the new book “Herbert Hoover and the Jews: The Origins of the ‘Jewish Vote’ and Bipartisan Support for Israel.”

Murdoch Confidante Recalls Chummy Ties With British Leaders
New York Times Blogs, May 11, 2012

Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks leaves after giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into the ethics and practices of the media at the High Court in central London on Friday.

… So chummy were the relations between Britain’s political leaders and Rebekah Brooks, a former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper subsidiary, that at one point Ms. Brooks found herself cheekily lecturing a future prime minister, David Cameron, about how to avoid humiliating himself by text message, she said.

“Occasionally he would sign them LOL — ‘lots of love,’ ” Ms. Brooks told the Leveson Inquiry on media ethics and practices, speaking of Mr. Cameron’s text messages to her when he was the leader of the opposition, “until I told him it meant ‘laugh out loud.’ Then he didn’t use that anymore.”

Ms. Brooks had been summoned to the inquiry to speak to its current focus: the relationship between politicians and the news media in Britain. The picture she painted was one of seemingly unfettered access for her and, implicitly, for her boss, Mr. Murdoch.

By her account, when political leaders were not arranging birthday parties for her or meeting her for cozy private dinners or sending her notes or attending her wedding, she was picking up the phone to chat with them — or sometimes to cajole or strong-arm them into seeing things her way.  …


Rupert Murdoch’s big backer sounds News Corp warning

The Guardian, May 8, 2012

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been one of Rupert Murdoch’s staunchest supporters. Photograph: Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the second biggest shareholder in Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corporation, has revealed his frustration with the fallout from the News of the World phone-hacking scandal and admitted that it is harming the reputation of the company overall, not just its publishing interests.

Alwaleed is a nephew of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, and, according to Forbes magazine, is the 29th wealthiest person in the world, with a fortune of $18bn (£11bn). He owns large stakes in Citigroup, Apple, Canary Wharf and London’s Savoy hotel as well as 7% of the voting shares in News Corp, which on Wednesday announces its results for the three months to the end of March. Analysts expect profits to rise around 19% from the same quarter last year.

Alwaleed said that although News Corp was “very diversified,” with interests covering books, magazines, newspapers, television and film, the phone-hacking scandal was having a company-wide effect. “I really hope that this is behind us because really it is not helping the name of the company,” he said. “We hope that this page is folded and put behind us because really it is not something to be proud of.”

News Corp investors have voiced concerns about the phone-hacking scandal since it erupted last year and, at the company’s AGM in October, several shareholders, including powerful pension fund CalPERS, called for the appointment of an independent chairman. Murdoch currently holds the position of chairman alongside that of chief executive. Alwaleed is one of Murdoch’s staunchest supporters and had never before spoken publicly about the wider impact of the scandal. …


News Corp. Noose Tightens in the US

Hollywood Reporter – ‎May 10, 2012

It’s not just phone-hacking but also bribery allegations that have legal experts wondering just how much trouble the Murdochs face.

The News Corp. scandal is like a fast-moving wildfire that seems to be zero percent contained. Yet while many analysts on Wall Street don’t even smell smoke, there are several signs that the inferno could jump the Atlantic to its U.S. headquarters.

“We find it difficult to foresee meaningful problems for News Corp.’s non-U.K. assets, which represent the vast majority of News Corp.’s market capitalization,” BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield said in a May 1 report — the day that a British parliamentary panel found that CEO Rupert Murdoch is “not a fit person” to run the company that he built.

But the developments are worrisome enough that one longtime media investor says he wouldn’t own News Corp. stock, even though the company’s assets are strong and the share price is relatively low. “I don’t want to own the sweater because the sweater is unraveling,” he says.

News Corp. faces multiple investigations in the U.S. that have the potential to lead to staggering fines and even criminal proceedings going all the way to the top. And British attorney Mark Lewis, who led the charge in representing hacking victims in U.K. litigation, has threatened civil lawsuits in this country, too, potentially leading to more bad publicity and payouts. …


Murdoch’s Shakespearean Tragedy

New Yorker (blog), May 9, 2012

Last Thursday, in Surrey, England, shortly after sunrise, British police  arrested a fifty-seven-year-old retired Scotland Yard detective. He was the  twenty-seventh person arrested in a bribery investigation known as Operation  Elveden, which is the most opaque but arguably the most important of the  multiple investigations of journalism and crime at News Corporation, the media  giant controlled by Rupert Murdoch. News Corp. has its headquarters in the  United States and is the parent company of Fox News, among other properties.

In comparison to the sensational revelations of phone and voicemail hacking  by News Corp. reporters in Britain—with alleged intrusions into the lives of the  British royal family and celebrities such as Elle Macpherson and Sienna  Miller—Operation Elveden lacks bold-faced names. It has the familiar grubbiness  of cash exchanged for favors.

Yet Elveden has the potential to upend News Corp. The known facts suggest  that behind a veil of police secrecy lies one of the most fraught and  treacherous crime and legal dramas ever to unfold inside a news organization.

Elveden’s investigators are looking into allegations that News Corp.  reporters bribed police, Army, and defense ministry officials—and possibly other  British officeholders—to win scoops and perhaps other business favors. That  means the evidence Elveden turns up could form the basis of charges in the  United States against News Corp. and its employees or executives under the  Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars American-based companies from paying  off “foreign officials” in order “to obtain or retain business.”

The investigation began last July, when a fresh series of allegations about  phone hacking became public. At that time, it was also alleged that reporters at  Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid newspaper had paid as many as five  police officers at least a hundred thousand pounds in cash in exchange for  information. The Justice Department and the S.E.C., urged on by Democratic  members of Congress, reportedly opened F.C.P.A. investigations in the U.S., and  Operation Elveden was born in Britain.

Since then, other investigations of News Corp. have delivered fresh jaw-dropping  testimony and records. Lowell Bergman’s terrific “Frontline” documentary, first broadcast in late  March, provides a primer. Last week, a British parliamentary committee added a  long and lively report about Murdoch’s earlier obfuscation before it and  concluded, in a split verdict, that Murdoch was not a “fit and proper” person to  have a broadcast license. …


Murdoch Scandal – Classic Media Baron, May 7, 2012
FRONT MEN: James Murdoch and his father, News Corp Chief Executive and Chairman Rupert Murdoch, appear before the Leveson Inquiry in London. If the phone hacking scandal gripping Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp empire has a familiar ring,

Board ties to Slow Rupert’s Fall
Sydney Morning Herald, May 7, 2012‎
But there was little reflection last week by the board of News Corp, which met quickly the day after the committee’s report and announced ”its full confidence in Rupert Murdoch’s fitness and support for his continuing to lead News Corporation into the

Murdoch Tweets back against Campaign for FCC Probe

The Hill (blog), May 8, 2012

By Andrew Feinberg – 05/08/12 03:42 PM ET News Corp. founder Rupert Murdoch isn’t pleased about a campaign to have the Federal Communications Commission review his broadcast licenses. Numerous public advocacy groups have called on Congress to

Rupert Murdoch still under Fire over Phone-Hacking Scandal – ‎May 8, 2012‎ – Earlier this month, a report by a UK Parliamentary Investigation Committee concluded that Rupert Murdoch, founder of the News Corporation, is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company. The report does not have the

The End of the Media Mogul? 

Deutsche Welle, May 8, 2012‎

British lawmakers declared Rupert Murdoch unfit to run a major international company. Does this mark the end of the all-powerful media mogul in a democratic society?   

Last week, British lawmakers found that Rupert Murdoch should take “ultimate responsibility” for the illegal practice of phone hacking that has corroded his global media empire.

A cross-party parliamentary committee said the 81-year-old lacked credibility, adding that his company was guilty of “willful blindness” toward its staff at the News of the World tabloid.

It’s the latest in a series of blows for the man who has held sway over British politics for decades.

In the report, his company’s British newspaper arm was also criticized for misleading parliament during its investigation into the hacking of phones belonging to prominent public figures and victims in high-profile crimes.

That scandal led to a public outcry against scandal-mongering journalism and to the closure of the Sunday tabloid News of the World last summer. Initially, “rogue reporters” were blamed for the incident, but it has since emerged that the practice was widespread. Several journalists from the mass-circulation Sun newspaper, also owned by Murdoch, have now been arrested over allegations of phone hacking and bribery. …

FULL STORY:,,15936495,00.html

By Gregory Korte

USA TODAY, April 19, 2012

WASHINGTON – A USA TODAY reporter and editor investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors have themselves been subjected to a propaganda campaign of sorts, waged on the Internet through a series of bogus websites.

Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created in their names, along with a Wikipedia entry and dozens of message board postings and blog comments. Websites were registered in their names.

The timeline of the activity tracks USA TODAY‘s reporting on the military’s “information operations” program, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns that have been criticized even within the Pentagon as ineffective and poorly monitored.

For example, Internet domain registries show the website was created Jan. 7 — just days after Pentagon reporter Tom Vanden Brook first contacted Pentagon contractors involved in the program. Two weeks after his editor Ray Locker’s byline appeared on a story, someone created a similar site,, through the same company.

If the websites were created using federal funds, it could violate federal law prohibiting the production of propaganda for domestic consumption.

“We’re not aware of any participation in such activities, nor would it be acceptable,” said Lt. Col. James Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman.

A Pentagon official confirmed that the military had made inquiries to information operations contractors to ask them about the Internet activity. All denied it, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the inquiries were informal and did not amount to an official investigation.

The websites were taken down following those inquiries. Various other sites and accounts were removed for violating their providers’ terms of service.

“I find it creepy and cowardly that somebody would hide behind my name and presumably make up other names in an attempt to undermine my credibility,” Vanden Brook said.

The activity is the work of what online reputation expert Andy Beal calls a “determined detractor.”

“It’s like a machine gun approach. They’re trying to generate as much online content as they can,” he said. “The person who’s behind this, we can give them a lot of credit here and assume they’re very sophisticated about reputation attacks.”

It can cost $10 to register a domain name, but $50 to pay for a proxy service to hide the owner’s identity, as was done with two of the websites. A third was registered to a non-existent address in Pueblo, Colo.

“This is the work of somebody who knows what they’re doing. They have some experience of covering their tracks. This is probably not the first time they’ve done something like this,” said Beal, CEO of Trackur, an online reputation tracking service.

Some postings merely copied Vanden Brook’s and Locker’s previous reporting. Others accused them of being sponsored by the Taliban. “They disputed nothing factual in the story about information operations,” Vanden Brook said.

On Feb. 8, as Vanden Brook continued to ask questions of contractors, a new Wikipedia user attempted to create an entry on him, alleging he “gained worldwide notoriety” for his “misreporting” of the 2006 Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia.

Early reports from the scene, relying on faulty information from the governor and mine operators — said 12 of 13 miners were found alive, when in fact only one was. Many news outlets — including the Associated Press, The New York Times and USA TODAY — conveyed the inaccurate reports in early editions.

Wikipedia took down the page and banned the user, but similar comments started populating Internet message boards and blogs. In one case, the fake @Tomvandenbrook Twitter account defended his Sago reporting to another apparently fake account.

Vanden Brook said he’s continuing to pursue the propaganda story. “If they thought it would deter me from writing about this, they’re wrong.”

“This is a clear attempt at intimidation that has failed,” Locker said.

By Roque Planas, Miama Herald Blog

Laz Razones de Cuba aired another documentary outing a covert operative. In this episode, “Manufacturing Leaders,” Cuban agent Raúl Capote writes a book criticizing Cuba during the special period. The CIA contacts him and makes him a U.S. agent, with the goal of turning Capote into a dissident leader, the film says. The documentary alleges that former Reuters correspondent Anthony Boadie served as a pointman for Capote to make contact with the CIA.

U.S. intelligence officials operated in Cuba under the cover of aid programs, including U.S. Aid, according to the film.

Neither the Reuters office in Havana nor the U.S. Interests Section would comment on the story to the Associated Press. Boadie now works as an editor for Reuters in Washington.

AP reports that Cuba has denied press accreditation for a number of foreign journalists in recent months.


By Chris Varano

TCU Daily Skiff, February 24, 2012

Stemming from a love of spy films and espionage thrillers, assistant professor of film-television-digital media Tricia Jenkins wrote a new book examining the CIA’s influence on the film and television industries.

The University of Texas Press released “The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television” in early February. Sponsoring editor at the University of Texas Press Jim Burr said the book’s originality piqued his interest.

“It was a topic that I hadn’t seen covered before,” Burr said.

Jenkins said she always loved the spy thriller genre and its relationship to the CIA. This interest led to the idea for the book, she said.

The book required a year of research before it could be written, Jenkins said. After finishing her research, she wrote the book within nine months.

Her research also formed the basis for Media, Politics and Social Values, a class she taught last spring. The class was a study in government propaganda, she said.

Jenkins encountered resistance from both the CIA and the entertainment industry when she was researching the book, she said.

But, Jenkins said she still managed to talk with many sources about the subject. Jenkins said she spoke with people who worked for the CIA as liaisons to the entertainment industry.

The liaisons attempted to make the entertainment industry present more favorable depictions of the CIA in films and television shows. She also talked with screenwriters and producers who worked with the liaisons.

According to the University of Texas Press website, Jenkins’ book discusses how the CIA influenced the production of many entertainment projects. Examples of films impacted by the CIA included “The Sum of All Fears”, “Syriana” and “The Good Shepherd”.

By Alex Constantine 

Since the jingoistic Tea Party this way came, National Public Radio has given the angry “patriots” periodic, unquestioning promo spots, tsked a few corporate sponsors and the occasional “extremist”-  a ubiquitous media euphemism for “fascist” – but has pretended not to know of the darkest strains of this toxic beverage, as if perpetually searching for words to describe it.

White supremacy isn’t an issue at NPR.

But just look at the “public” network’s toxic corporate funding: John M. Olin, the Bradley and Sloan Foundations, a slue of intelligence/ultra-con funding conduits, almost without exception. Funds for state propaganda from the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, on and on, affect us, an onslaught of “conservative” mental progamming that nearly rivals the smirky blather of Fox News.

“What does the Party – or Parties – believe in?” asks a perky morning NPR voice – but no clear answers are forthcoming. Neither are serious criticisms found elsewhere in the media, ranking legislative candidate ties to neo-Nazis, ties of their financiers to the ultra-con Birch Society.

Instead, even Robert Scheer, generally trusted by his liberal listeners, seemingly hasn’t heard of all that, and has voiced his support of the Tea Party repeatedly because he shares “their anger at the banks.” So he gives them a plug. He goes so far as to praise Ron Paul. (And Scheer’s unabashed admiration of Reagan leaves one with no choice but to write him off as hopelessly myopic.) The neo-Nazi and Bircher connections are waved away as inconvenient distractions – “over on the left,” Bob Scheer admires them, anyways.

The public radio network has been the Tea Party’s national soapbox, a place to get away with “astroturf” claims unchallenged, to hide behind “Constitution” and “small government” … and never explain what those code-words for fascism mean exactly to the wealthy, “grass-roots” constituents of the far-right Tea Party.

Yet conservative media commentators – in a ploy intended to drive the media to the right –  grind their molars endlessly over “liberal bias” at NPR.

A UCLA Study Found NPR to be “to the Right of the Washington Post” (Once Published by CIA propaganda recruit Phil Graham … Until he Shot Himself in te Head because He Believed the CIA was trying to Kill Him … )

Excerpt: “All Programs Considered,” by Bill McKibben, New York Review of Books, November 11, 2010

It seems churlish to criticize even mildly the flagship public radio news shows—their reliable excellence deserves lavish praise. In recent years, though, it’s started becoming clearer that, for all their polish, the big shows like All Things Considered suffer from some of the same constraints that plague other parts of elite American journalism. They aim for a careful political balance—one academic study found their list of guests slightly to the right of The Washington Post, and “approximately equal to those of Time, Newsweek, and US News and World Report. That’s not a particularly interesting place to be, and it may explain why, especially in the Bush years, many left-of-center listeners defected to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!, a highly professional but ideologically engaged daily hour on the Pacifica network. ….

Allegations of elitism and the status quo

A 2004 study published by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting found a solid conservative bias at National Public Radio. ‘NPR’s guestlist shows the radio service relies on the same elite and influential sources that dominate mainstream commercial news, and falls short of reflecting the diversity of the American public.”

UW survey: CNN, NPR spread Tea Party’s message

By John Gastil

Conservatives decry “National Liberal Radio” or, more plausibly, the leftward slant of MSNBC, whereas liberals mock the “fair and balanced” moniker of Fox News. 

The first year of the Tea Party movement … represents a new and vocally conservative actor that might tempt different media outlets to cover it in ways that reflect underlying biases. 

To test for such prejudice, the University of Washington undergraduate students in my Political Deliberation course created a series of content analytic categories that they applied to a representative sampling of 55 news articles from April 2009 to April 2010. … Extracted from the websites of Fox News, NPR, and CNN, this sample is small, but some of its findings are striking. At the very least, a careful look at these articles suggests interesting differences—and surprising similarities—in how these outlets have covered the Tea Party. … Students calculated the number of lines in each article that suggested how the Tea Party was affecting each party, and from this, I calculated a simple index from minus 10 to plus 10 to measure the Tea Party’s impact. 

On balance, CNNs reporting suggested that the Tea Party would hurt the GOP a little (-5) but have no effect on the Democrats. NPR suggested it could hurt both parties (-6 for GOP, -4 for Dems), and Fox News’ reporting suggested it would be a net benefit for the GOP (+5) and devastating for the Dems (-10). 

Next, consider how the media report on the general public’s sentiments toward the Tea Party. To date, every poll conducted has shown divided public opinion, with many Americans supporting the Tea Party and many others opposing it. Nonetheless, every one of the media outlets was more likely to include text indicating public support for the Tea Party than text indicating public opposition. NPR and Fox had roughly equal numbers, with three-quarters of their articles mentioning public support compared to only two-thirds noting opposition, whereas CNN devoted relatively few lines to either sentiment. 

NPR stood out compared to CNN and Fox as the most likely to include in its stories the voices of ordinary citizens, along with Tea Party participants and organizers. NPR also showed the clearest imbalance in sourcing. These articles quoted seven Republicans for every Democrat. …

NPR [showed] the clearest imbalance in sourcing. …  A quarter of the articles included Tea Party organizers compared to almost none featuring anti-Tea Party citizen demonstrators or activists. 


Citing comments dating to the Nixon administration, the FAIR report said, “That NPR harbors a liberal bias is an article of faith among many conservatives.” However, it added, “Despite the commonness of such claims, little evidence has ever been presented for a left bias at NPR.”

NPR spokeswoman Jenny Lawhorn responded, “This is America – any group has the right to criticize our coverage. That said, there are obviously a lot of intelligent people out there who listen to NPR day after day and think we’re fair and in-depth in our approach.”

Eric Engleman, Bloomberg News

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) — Internet companies led by Google Inc.  are using their online clout to stoke opposition to Hollywood-backed anti-piracy  measures in the U.S. Congress that they say will encourage censorship and chill  innovation.

Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine,  placed a link on its home page today opposing the House and Senate bills,  joining protests by Wikipedia and other websites. Google had about 400 million  daily U.S. searches in December, according to Internet measurement firm comScore  Inc., dwarfing the 111 million viewers of last year’s Super Bowl game.

Public criticism led by Google, Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.  slowed an initial “smooth glide to passage” for the anti- piracy measures  supported by the entertainment industry, Rogan Kersh, an associate dean at New  York University’s Wagner School who conducts research on lobbying, said in an  interview.

“Google and Facebook and Twitter are part of our daily lives  in a way that most of us find very appealing,” Kersh said. “These are sexy  brands. If you’re a member of Congress, you don’t want to be on the wrong side  of the social media and new media darlings of America.”

Google typically devotes its home page to displaying its own  services, not taking stands on legislation, and the “Google” icon is often used  to commemorate historical events. Today, the icon is covered by a black  rectangle, and the home page links to a website that asks visitors to sign an  online petition urging Congress to reject the legislation.

Wikipedia Shutdown

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia run by a nonprofit  organization where users contribute entries, is shutting the English version of  its website for 24 hours to protest the measures. Today, that page is blacked  out and carries a message saying that the bills “could fatally damage the free  and open Internet.”

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, said in a  statement yesterday that it opposes the House measure as currently drafted. The  company said it doesn’t plan to shut down its online services in protest.

The Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act  in the Senate are backed by the movie and music industries as a means to crack  down on the sale of counterfeit goods by non-U.S. websites. Hollywood studios  want lawmakers to ensure that Internet companies such as Google share  responsibility for curbing the distribution of pirated material.

The so-called blackout day to protest anti-piracy legislation  is “abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace  today,” Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America,  said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

‘Incite Their Users’

“It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms  that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite  their users in order to further their corporate interests,” said Dodd, a  Connecticut Democrat who served three decades in the Senate.

News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch called Google a “piracy  leader” in a Jan. 14 post on Twitter, saying that it streams movies for free and  sells advertisements around them. A day later he wrote in his Twitter account  that Google is a “great company doing many exciting things. Only one complaint,  and it’s important.”

Miranda Higham, a News Corp. spokeswoman, declined to  comment.

Samantha Smith, a Google spokeswoman, said the company  respects copyright. “Last year we took down 5 million infringing Web pages from  our search results,” she said in an e-mail yesterday.

‘Radioactive Brand’

Murdoch represents a “radioactive” brand and his comments are  “terrible timing” for supporters of the anti-piracy legislation, Kersh of New  York University said.

“As supervisor of a media empire that is best known at present  for hacking into people’s personal phone accounts, this is not someone you want  arguing for more government involvement in the lives of the public,” Kersh  said.

The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote Jan. 24 to  see whether there is enough support to begin debate on its version of the  legislation bill.

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