PBS ‘Frontline’ Planning News Corp. Exposé?

By Alex Weprin 

Fox News Channel’s Geraldo Rivera was out to dinner with his old friend and colleague from ABC News, Lowell Bergman, when things turned quite sour. Bergman is an esteemed journalist, having produced the now-infamous exposé of the tobacco companies for “60 Minutes.”

According to a Facebook post from Rivera, Bergman’s latest target is News Corp. and Fox News.

He explained that his investigative reporting program at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, in association with reporters from ProPublica are probing our corporate parent, News Corp’s U.S. properties; specifically the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and Fox News.

The expose is due to run on PBS’ ‘Frontline,’ “in the next few months,” he told me in an ominous tone.

The subject of the special is the hacking scandal that has enveloped News Corp.’s U.K. papers, and threatens to expand to all of the tabloids there. So far no U.S. outlets have been implicated in the scandal.

Bergaman told Rivera that his students were working hard to get something on the record from a Fox News journalist.

Now glaring back at the indefatigable Mr. Bergman, I asked, “Are you threatening me?” which he denied, then I said, “Let me get this straight. You are the most left-wing reporter in television news, a Berkley professor no less, and you’re working with ProPublica, the most hard-left reporters’ group in the business, and you’re going to air your documentary on Public Television, and you expect me to convince my colleagues at Fox News that you’re going to give us a fair-shake? Give me a break.”

It is worth remembering that the News Corp. outlets that hacked people’s phones were all after salacious and gossipy scoops, hence the focus on celebrities, public figures and the victims of high-profile crime.

The Wall Street Journal and Fox News are not exactly known for their salacious celebrity scoops, so it would make little sense for them to hack phones. The Post is know for its gossip, but the internal workings are well-known, and while ethics has been a problem there (particularly when it comes to accepting “gifts” from those they cover), hacking has never come up.

Will “Frontline” have any fire? Or will it all be smoke? We will have to wait to find out.

(h/t Johnny $)