Will Congress Jump In to Murdochgate?

So far, investigation seems unlikely

Murdochgate has everything a politician could want in a scandal: big names, big money, and guaranteed big press coverage. Usually when something like this hits, members of Congress leaders can't resist putting out a statement, at the very least, and then looking for the nearest TV camera. But this time, Congress has been mum.

Maybe members are too distracted by (or focused on) the budget and deficit debate to think about News Corp. and whether the hacking scandal is headed to this side of the Atlantic. Or maybe they're just waiting, watching the story unfold.

Even if the scandal does erupt in force here, don't expect to see too many fireworks. The House, the traditional domain of those most likely to do a little rabble-rousing on an issue like this, is controlled by Republicans; they're not likely to go after a GOP-friendly media company like News Corp. That leaves the Senate, and the more moderate Democrats there aren't going to be too quick to pull the trigger on an investigation, especially not an investigation that can be spun as an attack on a foe like Fox News. 

"I haven't heard anything yet," said a spokeswoman for the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "I've had no opportunity to talk to the chairman, but so far I haven't heard any rumblings."

Calls to the office of Sen. John Rockefeller, D-W. Va., who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, were not immediately returned, but a spokesman for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the second-ranking Democrat on the committee, said "no" when asked if the committee would be taking up the issue. 

That doesn't mean that Congress won't rise to the occasion later, if pressure mounts. So far only one organization has called for a congressional investigation. Citing reports in the U.K.'s Daily Mirror that 9/11 victims in the U.S. may have had their voice mails hacked by News of the World, legal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sounded the alarm. In a letter Monday to the chairmen and ranking members of both the House and Senate Commerce Committees, CREW said Congress should investigate whether journalists for any other News Corp. media outlets in the U.S. engaged in the same tactics employed by News of the World.

"It is imperative that the United States should begin its own inquiry immediately," wrote Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director.