Posts Tagged ‘James Murdoch’
Is the phone hacking scandal David Cameron’s personal Watergate? We appear to have all the ingredients necessary to topple an unelected government for whom cynicism and self interest appear to be the only identifiable characteristics. So why is the press tip toeing around this story like cattle avoiding an abattoir?
For those who haven’t been paying attention, this dismal tale began to look interesting when News of The World Editor Andy Coulson was appointed chief spin doctor to Downing Street at a time when the paper was already under investigation by the police after allegations of phone tapping were made public. The official line was that the phone tapping was the work of a single private investigator operating under his own initiative and that Andy Coulson could not possibly have known about it. Fast forward six months and amid allegations that senior police officers were wined and dined by the News of The World, that David Cameron spent Christmas Day dining with Rebekah Wade-Brooks and James Murdoch, and the kind of connections started to be made that rendered Andy Coulson’s position at the heart of the government an embarrasment. Quite where the appointment of Murdoch acolyte Jeremy Hunt to oversee the sale of BSkyB to News International, and the editorial support for the Tory party adopted by the Murdoch owned newspapers fits into all this is a question that newspapers apart from the Guardian seem curiously unwilling to ask. And as revelations concerning the hundreds of thousands of pounds allegedly paid to senior police officers stack up, it seems extraordinary for News International to continue to claim that their executives were innocent of any wrongdoing.
The phone tapping scandal reached its nadir with revelations that the mobile belonging to Milly Dowler was tapped and messages deleted from the voicemail service to make room for more by private investigators. These people were employed by News of the World journalists under an editorial regime presided over by current chief executive Rebekah Wade-Brooks. The cynicism and cruelty of this act beggars belief since relatives desperately trying to contact Milly were given false hope by the fact that it appeared that she had deleted the messages herself. A full mailbox accepting no further voicemails suddenly became accessible. This demonstrates a level of cynicism matched only by Wade-Brooks fatuous excuse that she was ‘on holiday’ at the time this happened. The fact is that as editor at the time she should be held to account for the culture of journalism prevailing in the company. It almost seems appropriate to quote Bill Shankly on the offside rule: “If he’s not interfering with play, what the F*** is he doing in the area!” Even if Wade-Brooks did not personally order that telephone to be tapped, she was responsible for the culture that did.
On Tuesday David Cameron performed another of his wonderful U-turns. Initially declaring that it would be inappropriate to order a government inquiry into the affair while an ongoing police investigation was erm ongoing, by the afternoon he had decided the affair could not be ignored and declaring the actions of the private investigators to be ‘dreadful’ he ordered the inquiry to take place. Meanwhile, BSkyB will be delivered to Murdoch on a plate, giving him control of approximately 50% of the media channels in this country.
The opportunism of Murdoch closing the News of the World absolutely demonstrates why we should be so concerned by the prospect of this company becoming the dominant force in the UK media. Before the scandal caused advertisers to pull out en masse (interesting that Tesco, Vodaphone and Orange saw no reason to protest), Rebekah Wade had already laid plans to merge the workforces of the Sun and the News of the World, and News International had already bought the domain name for the proposed Sunday Sun. All that has happened is that Murdoch has swung the axe more quickly and more widely than he had planned. This scandal has been opportunistically exploited to save Rebekah Wade Brooks at the expense of hundreds of jobs. Of course an executive with close ties to the Prime Minister is a valuable asset to the Murdoch enterprise.
Sometimes it feels as though the british public are like sheep being led to a slaughter. We are force fed salacious nonsense about second rate celebrities while unemployment rises, prices rise, inflation rises. The government ensure that what little money remains in the economy is channelled into the hands of the private sector, while peddling the line that all of this is somehow the fault of a Labour Government. David Cameron’s trade is public relations lest we forget. It is the one thing he really does excel at.
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was persuading the world he didn’t exist.” appropriately, that quote comes from a film entitled “The Usual Suspects”.