#NotW Hackgate EXCLUSIVE: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie & Jennifer Aniston

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 15, 2011

Category: Old Media, Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch

This entry was posted on
Friday, July 15th, 2011
11:26 am and is filed
under Old Media, Rupert ‘The Evil One’ Murdoch.

Short version:

Holy cow! It looks like News of the World ‘hacked’ the phone(s) of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and/or Jennifer Aniston!

Long version:

1. As I have already noted, if we are to hope to hold News Corporation to account for the conduct of newspapers operating under subsidiary News International, then what we need are victims of phone ‘hacking’ who are US citizens (or even, at this stage, US citizens who are potential victims). Given the enormous monetary/legal resources Rupert Murdoch has and the political influence he retains despite this massive scandal, it is preferable that these victims have ample resources and access to legal Rottweilers. So, if you’ll pardon the arrogance of my onomatopoeia; Boom.

2. Speaking of legal Rottweilers, I have already written about the pattern of celebrity stories that claim to be based on leaks from ‘friends’, but appear instead to have been based on illicitly-accessed phone messages, but I think News of the World would have been far more wary of basing a scoop solely/obviously on Brangelina’s phone messages than they would have been with your average citizen (and with good reason; the couple sued the newspaper over a later article in 2010). I suspect News of the World staff/editors retained most of what they discovered through this route and did not publish the usual level of detail until after the Pitt/Aniston break-up was public knowledge and there were enough actual blabbers around (i.e. in the bitter dispute that followed) to provide adequate cover. I expect I’ll know more once I get my hands on that October 2004 item mentioned in this article.

3. Look at the detail. The source News of the World rely on here appears to know a lot about the tone of voice people used in these intimate phone conversations. This does not look good for News of the World. This does not look good at all.

Detail: News of the World, 9 January 2005

4. Like the Danielle Jones article, this item is not only prominent (Page 9), it makes specific reference to phones. We are expected to believe that then-editor Andy Coulson somehow missed this or looked at this item (knowing the pronounced risks of litigation) and did not make any enquiries about the source.

5. Hell, if you’re the speculating type, try to imagine Glenn Mulcaire listening in to this break-up of a leading celebrity couple, and then try to guess who he might speak to about this dynamite story. Personally, if I were a greedy tabloid scumbag, I’d be talking directly to the editor if not passing on messages about how many extra zeroes this one would cost.

6. Later today, I’ll get in touch with Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie’s London lawyers, Schillings. I’m ‘known’ to these lawyers, you know… for something completely different!!! (Sorry. Private joke. Moving on.)

7. I do hate to go on and on like a poorly-compressed MP3, but this revelation is the result of wholly independent research, and if you’d like to make sure that I have the time/funds/capacity to do more, then please donate today:

Cheers all. If there’s enough money in the kitty by early this afternoon, I can start making immediate plans for another jaunt into the British Newspaper Library early next week.


  1. @alexhern says

    Does this match the methods that we know are used, though? The vast majority of the hacking has been the voicemail trick, but listening in on a live conversation – or getting it to be recorded – would be an order of magnitude more complex. I know that there have been reports of bribes to networks; do you believe that was what occurred here?

    • Tim_Ireland says

      Generally, I believe that more than one method of interception/access was used, yes.

      [EDIT] – There are also likely scenarios that allow for this detail to have come to NotW through access to voicemail messages only. Example: Aniston calling Jolie back on the number she used to call their landline, leaving an angry message, and quoting some of the conversation back to her (in a mimicking/mocking way) as proof the jig was up. That said, I should reiterate we are only just now beginning to learn about some of the different methods used by NotW to eavesdrop of people’s private lives.

      • @amuchmoreexotic says

        We actually know for a fact that at about this time, there was at least one private detective running illegal wiretaps, Anthony Pellicano: https://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/19/business/media

        I can't find any details of how he did it, but one of his codefendants was a telephone engineer. So it was definitely feasible for corrupt insiders to listen in on phone calls in real time, without being detected straight away.

      • Patricia M. says

        Tim, aren't you engaging in the same kind of speculative gossip that the NOTW rode to ignominy. You know none of this to be true and yet your story is being quoted as though you have evidence of your suppositions and your admitted hope that someone with the resources of Pitt or Jolie becomes a victim of Murdoch's illegalities. NOTW fabricated all kinds of stories and even with wire taps or hacking if they didn't get something salacious they would still lie and print a story that sells.

        Rank speculation that smears someone is the same whether NOTW does it or you do it. You need to make it clear that your headline is your very own wet dream.

        • Tim_Ireland says

          I have little control over how my story is quoted, but the story itself makes absolutely clear which components are based on speculation. My headline doesn't make any claim or statement of fact (e.g. it doesn't claim anyone was hacked); how is it a 'wet dream'?

  2. Enzyme says

    Doesn't rather a lot of this ride on the truthfulness of NotW and its "sources", though? Their being on the phone and speaking in hushed tones would be publicly observable; the stuff about Anniston picking up another extension and listening in could quite easily be standard gossip; and a lot of the details could be straightforward tabloid imagination-masquerading-as-news stuff…

    If NotW is as mendacious as most people think it to be, oughtn't we to be wary of taking its own stories all that seriously?

  3. @msamandaraymond says

    Look up stories involving Americans living in the UK like Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow etc

  4. Perfect Song says

    Here’s the perfect song for this article;

    Sky High – Jigsaw

  5. scotch says

    I still knew of people in the States using analog wireless handsets on their land lines until pretty recently. So an old-fashioned scanner easily sorts that out. And Chigaco, not Hickskville. Although I guess Hollywood A-list might be smarter. Maybe.

  6. @Danack57 says

    "Former Fox News executive Dan Cooper has claimed that a special bunker, requiring security clearance for access was created at the company's headquarters to conduct “counterintelligence” including snooping on phone records"

    There may not be enough popcorn if this is true and gets the FBI involved.

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