Phone-Hacking: Some Thoughts

This isn’t a logical analysis of the whole farce from beginning to end and nor does it provide any answers or solutions to any of the issues. It just sets out some thoughts on the key players and concepts while they’re fresh in my mind (and before Murdoch hacks into my brain and deletes everything).

BROOKS, Rebekah

This foxy, high-flying slapper (see “Personal Life” in that link) was the editor of The News of the World at the time a lot of this madness was going on so she either knew about it, in which case she could end up in the jailhouse, or she should have known about it, in which case she’s not a very good editor. How come she still has a job, then? Well it’s very fitting that she is flame-haired because the only reason for Murdoch Snr. to keep her P45 in his desk for the time being is so she can perform the important job of human firewall-in-chief, valiantly holding back the flames that would otherwise be licking the incurably flatulent behind of Murdoch Jnr. and therefore by proxy that of Murdoch Snr. Like Coulson and the Murdochs she jealously guards her privacy and is rarely in the news. This, in the context of an endemic culture of phone-hacking and privacy intrusion over which ultimately they presided and for which they might each be personally culpable, to one extent or another, can helpfully be summarised in just three words: very fucking ironic.

CAMERON, David or “Dave”

He has really screwed up, not just in hiring Coulson in the first place but also by refusing to say clearly that it was a bad decision. What really amazes me about Cameron is that he doesn’t want to completely cut himself off from News International and the hapless Murdochs, Brooks and Coulson (though in all fairness he did say he would have accepted Brooks’s resignation). Why? Is he scared? We know he is very close to Brooks and Coulson; in fact even during this current shitstorm, when he was under huge pressure to throw Coulson to the wolves, he specifically said that “he became a friend and is a friend”. Do you think the Murdochs, Brooks and Coulson have something on him? Before he became PM Cameron seemed to be embracing the new media landscape but his reluctance to cut and run makes him look weak and very much stuck in the dusty, papery past. The Sun endorsed your bid for PM, Dave, and you ended up…in a coalition with Nick Clegg, a man you had previously described as a joke. That should have told you all you needed to know about the power of Murdoch’s newspapers now compared to the past. Grow a pair of large ones and free yourself from this death-embrace in which you are locked.

COULSON, Andy

He was finally put out of his misery when he left his job as chief Bullshitmeister at Number Ten on 21 January 2011 and he patiently waited until 8 July 2011 to be arrested. He hinted that he has some dirt of his own to dish out when he said, “There’s an awful lot I would like to say but I can’t”. Come on Andy, SAY IT, SAY IT, SAY IT! What’s the very worst that can happen? Ok, maybe keep it to yourself. “Ask not what you can do to Murdoch – ask what Murdoch can do to you.”

JOURNALISTS

When the information came out about Milly Dowler, the Soham girls, 7/7 victims and dead soldiers, this scandal rose to/sunk to a whole different level. The journalists couldn’t even argue they were exposing any wrongdoing or that the ends justified the means because there weren’t any “ends”. The hacking was pure, voyeuristic snooping into the lives of people that had already suffered horribly. Vile and depraved.

MILIBAND, Ed

The Nasal One is trying to take the moral high ground but, like the inside of his nose, this just won’t wash. Labour was as much in bed with Murdoch under Blair and Brown as the Tories under Thatcher and Cameron. As I heard someone say the other day, Cameron was just “holding the bomb when it went off”. Ed says that Dave “doesn’t get it”, but the only thing Ed “gets” that Dave doesn’t is that News International is toxic and needs to be avoided like the Plague. That’s not a moral position; it’s one of self-preservation. No more News International parties for you, Ed.

MURDOCH Jnr.

The googly-eyed bespectacled heir apparent has something to be happy about: he isn’t suffering from constipation, that’s for sure, because (i) his dad’s probably very disappointed in him; and (ii) he’s probably had a read of the Regulation of Investigative Powers Act 2ooo to try and figure out whether any personal criminal responsibility might attach to him as a director of News International. Section 79 of that act says:

“79 Criminal liability of directors etc.

(1) Where an offence under any provision of this Act other than a provision of Part III is committed by a body corporate and is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to be attributable to any neglect on the part of—

(a) a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or
(b) any person who was purporting to act in any such capacity,

he (as well as the body corporate) shall be guilty of that offence and liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.”

(A word of advice, Mr. Murdoch: the above wording doesn’t get any better if you keep re-reading it; it just gets worse. I’d put it to one side and just read one of your papers – assuming you have any.)

MURDOCH Snr.

His bid for BSkyB is effectively over and with it his plan for complete global media supremacy. He is now contaminated and no politician should want to be associated with him. To paraphrase Soft Cell, “Once they ran to Roops, now they run from Roops.” Hopefully you were kind to the people you met on the way up, Mr. Murdoch, because you’ll be meeting them on the way down. Although he values power more highly than money, money buys power, so his major fear is financial contagion through his imperial galaxy. Therefore, today’s allegations about The Sun and The Sunday Times may make him stressed. Limiting financial contagion was one of the reasons he decapitated The News of the World, but only one. He probably wanted to go to a seven-day Sun operation anyway for purely cost-cutting reasons so this would have been a handy way of achieving that. One outlandish theory of mine is that when, not if, it becomes clear that other newspapers were up to similar tricks, News International will say, “We killed off The News of the World. Are the owners of these dodgy papers going to do the same?” There will also be pressure on the companies who withdrew advertising from The News of the World to do the same with the other papers (pressure which they will have put on themselves) and if they do withdraw advertising this will put commercial pressure on the owners of those other papers, News International’s competitors. So the spotlight and the pressure would shift from News International to its competitors and numerous other companies. Like your style, old man. Like. Your. Style.

NEWS OF THE WORLD a.k.a. NEWS OF THE SCREWS

Credit where it’s due, this now-deceased newspaper exposed more than its fair share of corruption and dodgy-dealing and therefore performed a vital role. It also gave us something to read/look at while waiting for a plate of fried pig parts in a greasy spoon. But like most greasy spoon sausages it was of negligible quality and largely full of shit. Yes, as the great British public we all need to take some responsibility for the creation of a social and economic ecosystem which supported the super-evolution of such a hideously mutated newspaper, but we can’t and won’t take all the responsibility. Newspapers create moods and appetites; they don’t just reflect them. I also reject the implication that you have to take the rough with the smooth – that if you want exposés, you must have gutter journalism. That’s not true. For example, two of the biggest scandals in recent times were unearthed by the traditional papers: The Daily Telegraph (parliamentary expenses) and The Guardian (this).

POLICE

This is probably the most disturbing part of this whole degrading mess. When you can’t trust the police to investigate wrongdoing because they have allegedly become financially close to the media organisations they should have been investigating, everyone’s a loser (apart from the bent coppers).

TIPPING POINT

It’s worth reminding ourselves what the tipping point in all of this really was. It wasn’t the revelations about Milly Dowler etc per se or the “public outrage”; it was when the large corporates started withdrawing their advertising. Interesting.

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