On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal revealed that its China bureau was under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly bribing Chinese officials with “lavish entertainment and travel” in exchange for information used in news articles. The paper says that the American government began looking into the charges after being approached by an informant who claimed to have knowledge of the gifts, which would have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “A person close to [parent company News Corp.] said the alleged China matter hasn’t been raised by U.S. investigators in some time, but wasn’t more specific,” reported the WSJ. “It isn’t clear if the Justice Department considers the matter resolved or still open.”
Either way, News Corp.’s Dow Jones division says that an internal review did not turn up any evidence to support the allegations. In fact, officials at the company say they believe that the supposed whistle-blower is actually a Chinese government agent attempting to retaliate against the WSJ for its reporting on members of China’s leadership, such as disgraced former Politburo member Bo Xilai. It’s not an outrageous theory, since the claims coincided with attacks on the WSJ by hackers with ties to the Chinese government. On the other hand, News Corp. is not exactly known for its scrupulous approach to news-gathering overseas.