Taking Murdoch’s Shilling

If you’re surprised at the warm Fleet Street farewell for the News of the World don’t be. It’s not just that we don’t wish to speak ill of the dead, it’s also that so many journalists paid their dues, or got a leg up, on Murdoch titles. Given that he’s owned the Sun, NotW, Times and Sunday Times as a group for more than thirty years it was difficult for many hacks to avoid.

Some however did, on principle. It wasn’t so much the paper’s politics that has been objectionable but the way Murdoch has used his power to manipulate British public life. He has no place doing so.

I struggle to work up more than scant sympathy for the staff of the News of the World. They may not have been veterans of the phone-hacking era but they did choose to work for a paper that wrecked people’s lives, dealt in sleaze and traded tittle-tattle. The News of the World’s idea of doing good didn’t coincide that often with other people’s ideas of what doing good should mean.

But the paper’s closure must not distract us for the real issue. The wickedness that consumed it didn’t arise from within the paper, it eminated from the Murdoch’s themselves. It may not have been on their explicit orders (though it may have, we shall see) but it was the way a Sunday tab reflected the manipulative, amoral, ruthless brutality of its owner.

The darkness eminated from within Murdoch’s own dark heart and we will not rid ourselves of it so long as he influences any single part of our media.

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4 Responses to “Taking Murdoch’s Shilling”

  1. Badgeman Says:

    The main issue isn’t Murdoch as unlikeable as he is. Your petty political games are taking your eye off the ball.

    I want to know just how many papers were doing it (clearly several), for how long, who knew about it and for how long and why did everyone in the media, politics and the police clearly not want any of this this to come out. The facts have been out there for years, widely known by people not even remotely connected to journalism. There is a cosy connection between the media, ‘investigative’ journalists at the BBC, business, police and politicians of all colours. I expect a lot of them went to the same school or do the funny handshake.

    And quite why the BBC (who you could say dominate more than Murdoch) don’t seem to be able to uncover anything remotely dodgy that a politician ever does, baffles me. All in bed together.

    • headstrongclub Says:

      Well we will probably find out in due course, but I think your take on this could be more carefully considered.

      Firstly the BBC is Britain’s public service broadcaster. It doesn’t hack phones so can’t get NotW style scoops by those methods, and it can’t send in undercover reporters on fishing trips like the Telegraph with Vince Cable – both are against BBC guidelines. After the Blue Peter phone-in scandal those are taken very seriously. The BBC does get scoops, such as the Bristol care home scandal and plenty from Robert Peston.

      And while you’re right to say the BBC has a presence akin to Murdoch’s you might also mention that the BBC ‘belongs’ to all of us and is an accountable public body. Murdoch is neither accountable nor acting in any interests other than those of News Corp’s shareholders.

      As for “The facts have been out there for years, widely known by people not even remotely connected to journalism,” then if so please publish them. If you can prove anything about schools and funny handshakes go ahead and do everyone a favour. We all have our suspicions. In the world of journalism it’s about what you can prove – and after the NotW debacle it’ll hopefully be what you can prove by legitimate means.

      • Badgeman Says:

        The phrase “well, you publish the facts then!” seems to come from many in what I would broadly term the political class in an attempt to pretend it couldn’t have been addressed before. It clearly could, there was just no will or desire to rock the boat.A quick trawl of the net and back issues of Private Eye tells you everything you need to know going back many years. Ok, it’s not been tested in court but there was more than enough to start the ball rolling – but no-one bothered. Why did Johnson, Livingston and numerous other mayoral candidates never pursue these matters with the MET? Never mind every other force was probably at it too. No one wants anything to happen as they are all in it up to their necks – should every newspaper / organisation who did it be closed down? What if it transpires BBC journalists did anything similar?

        BBC political hacks used to go out with Archer for dinner when his scams were ‘common knowledge’ for example when they should have been investigating him – or at at least having nothing to do with him. The whole fargo encapsulates everything about Britain that needs changing – mainly that cosy relationship between those who have positions of power and wealth, those who ‘regulate’ them, those who ‘police’ them and those who want to be part of that world – even at a local level. And it does go right down to the schools people went to – as the holder of pretty much any important office in the UK demonstrates. Ever wonder why the expenses scandal never broke before? The only way to have kept that quiet for years was for EVERYONE involved to want it that way.

        Regarding other stuff: A friend of mine once tried to make a C4 documentary about Freemasons and the Police. He nearly ended up in the clink pretty quickly and was told in no uncertain terms to walk away from it. Neither newspapers nor the BBC ever touch this stuff. Murdoch is the MP with the duckhouse. The one who allows all the other crooks to get away with it. Why are no newspapers crowing for all those other expense cheats to be brought to book? It needs what we in Britain are very poor at doing – having a root and branch fundamental change to the way we run things. I expect a few politicians are very, very nervous but most expect that it will be taken care of with a few sacrificial lambs to placate the masses.

        Wow. Bit of a rant. Sorry – too much coffee.

  2. headstrongclub Says:

    I reckon you might want to avoid Starbucks for a couple of hours…

    Let’s lay out what we know.

    There has been phone hacking and heaven knows what else at the News of the World. We were told it was limited in scope and that conclusion was supported by a police investigation. Aside from Tom Watson, John Prescott and a few others no one much made a fuss about it.

    One of the reasons I suspect no one made much of a fuss about it was that politicians and celebrities are seen as fair game for this sort of stuff. The turning point was surely last week’s revelation (courtesy the admirable Nick Davies) that Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked. Affter that the floodgates opened.

    Up until that point the entire political class was afraid of Murdoch. There seems to be a suggestion that Watson was leant on by Tony Blair’s people but that Watson was shielded by Brown.

    I think it was a case of no one moving to strike the king unless they knew they could kill him. The reason all this is about Murdoch is that Murdoch has amassed a degree of power in Britain that he has absolutely zero right to and that power acted as a powerful disincentive to anyone challenging him. He absolutely had the power to destroy the reputation of almost anyone who did. Where could people turn? The police? Now we have good reason to believe that there was enough collusion between News Corp and the police that if it didn’t influence the investigation directly then it at least gave the police reason to keep the lid on the extent of their own corruption and that may have persuaded them to pull their punches with News Corp.

    And yes there may be malpractice elsewhere and it may or may not come out but we haven’t seen hard evidence yet. The Mirror is sometimes mentioned, as is The Daily Mail and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were problems at the Sunday Times.

    There is also a wide gulf between rumour and what can stand up in court – and it’s useful you mention Private Eye here because they’ve been on the wrong side of that line too many times to mention. That’s what they do. It’s not what the BBC does.

    Now know as I do how the bits of the BBC that I’m familiar with work you couldn’t get two inches down the road towards what the NotW did without earning the fury of colleagues. That doesn’t mean that no one within the BBC has hacked a phone, but I am as close to certain as humanly possible that no culture of impunity exists where that sort oof stuff happens and is known about. If anyone does it they’re damned quiet about it.

    And as for ‘petty political games’ let me say this: if Murdoch surrenders The Times and Sunday Times my hope and expectation is that they both become great papers again without any of the making up quotes and journalistic shortcuts for which they’ve earned a reputation. I don’t expect their politics to change one iota; I’d expect them both to be moderately centre right, somewhere between the Telegraph and the Indy – sort of Chris Patten in print form.

    I’d rather see us regain two great papers and lose Murdoch even oif those papers become, as a result, a more powerful voice arguing against much of what I believe in.

    The problem really is Murdoch and the degree of power he has amassed for himself. It has allowed the culture he has promoted to develop. Power in a democracy should rest with the people to be lent by them to their elected representatives. I absolutely does not belong with the likes of Rupert Murdoch.

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