What’s happening in Britain today is pretty damn exciting. Bluntly put, politicians have been running scared of Rupert Murdoch for decades. He has been a kingmaker. He owns enough of the media, including dailies and sundays in both the broadsheet and tabloid markets, to influence the entire political agenda, arguably even deciding the outcome of elections.
Politicians have feared him, politicians have tried to appease him. And not just because he could shape the agenda of public debate. He could also use his papers, and the people employed by them, to exert personal pressure. The man who owns the London Times also kept a couple of rottweilers, and had no qualms about using them to intimidate.
The more success he had at pushing politicians around, the softer they went on media regulation and ownership, so giving him more power. His ownership of leading names in all the paper markets was leveraged into a major interest in Sky, the biggest money-earner in UK TV. Money which helped further increase his market dominance and so his ability to push politicians around.
This was never going to end well.
And it looks likely to happen all over again in the US, where his Fox News has helped shift the debate drastically towards the right – and indeed away from debate at all, to a place where actual democratic politics is paralysed by polarisation and shouting. Murdoch is a businessman willing to damage the public cultures of countries within which he operates in order to profit.
What we’re getting to watch here is the worm finally turning. And it’s wonderful to see. Realising that public opinion might for once be on their side, cowed politicians are beginning to get a gleam in their eyes. They are imagining a world where they are not afraid. And they are thrilled by what a better world that could be.
For once, you can sympathise with the politicians. The press must be powerful, it must be free and strong. But dominance by one man and his organisation is every bit as pernicious as dominance by government.
George Michael has claimed on Twitter that Rebekah Brooks told him her paper got celebrity dirt first and foremost from the police. Now it seems investigators want to interview him about this. He’s delighted to help…
I’ve edited his tweets into continuous prose and skipped a couple of remarks on other topics, but that aside these are his words unadulterated. It began on July 7th:
Hey boyz and girls, a message to my English fans in particular. Today is a fantastic day for Britain. Those of you that have wondered why I have had nothing to say this week about Rupert Murdoch, all I can say is that the time will come. But this much is worth saying now. Rebekah Brooks sat two feet from me in my own home and told me that it was never the public that came to them with information on celebrities, and that the Police always got there first. I think that’s enough to be going on with.
Don’t ask me how she got there. Believe me I didn’t invite her.
Rebekah, glad to help 🙂 How does it feel?
By the way, the things I have to say on the NOTW’s corruption of the British justice system are by way of a public warning. These beliefs are in no way an excuse for any of my behaviour in recent times. I was happy to do my time, because I was so ashamed. But I believe every individual, whether privileged or the average citizen, deserves the law. And many of us rich or poor have been denied it by News International. For many, many years. Like I said, today is a FANTASTIC day for Britain. XXX
You gotta have faith in Karma. Today it’s very real. And I hope the families of Milly Dowler and all the others who died Get way more than an apology. God bless them x
It continued Sunday evening:
Good evening everyone……still basking in the fire that’s been lit under News International….very tempted to go out and buy the NOTW so I could put it to good use, but I’m pretty sure it would leave ink on my backside! BOOBOOM!
One thing puzzles me, why is nobody talking to or about Sir Ian Blair? The man was obsessed with celebrity scandals. And he was in charge at the time that the so called ‘list of victims’ was discovered along with the names of the Royals hacked. Why has he disappeared into thin air? Isn’t it possible that he had something to do with the decision NOT TO INFORM the hundreds (thousands?) of citizens of the danger? And we all remember his economy with the truth when it came to the poor Brazilian man who died on the tube post 9/11… Just a thought you understand. But the implausible becomes more plausible hour by hour as this all plays out. I just want to know… Why did the Metropolitan Police choose to hold on to the list for MORE THAN THREE YEARS?
And today, it reaches the dramatic climax:
So sorry to bore those of you who live outside of the UK, but the phone hacking scandal is so important to the future of Britain. Ed Milliband doing a great job at the moment on TV, he can see that Cameron’s relationship with Coulson and Brooks could actually threaten his position as Prime Minister. And in doing so he keeps mentioning JOHNATHON REES ! Finally !!! Rees is the ex-jailbird hired after his release by Andy Coulson when he was still working at the NOTW, paid hundreds of thousands of pounds in return for private information, and perhaps most importantly HACKED INTO COMPUTERS all the time. The two photographers who sat outside my house in their cars night after night for several years were regularly seen with computers open on their laps. I presumed for years that I was under surveilance. In fact, one night in particular, I strolled over the road to one of them and tapped on his window….. 🙂 ‘I hope you like my taste in men.’
So you see people, in years it’s gone way further than phone hacking… Google JOHNATHAN REES, particularly the Guardian’s articles. The Guardian are the true heroes in all of this. No question. Respect 🙂
Yes daryl but there are “related articles” about him in the Guardian that tell you about the computer hacking. This thing is going to have legs, people. And not the pretty kind. 🙂
Just spoke to my lawyer…. apparently they want to interview me about my comments on Rebekah Brooks here on Twitter. Like I said, glad to help… 🙂 I have way more to tell the police than I can tweet to you here…
Unfortunately, the Weeting Enquiry doesn’t cover those years after Johnathan Rees was employed by Andy Coulson and the computer hacking began. From a personal point of view, those are the details I’m interested in. Not that any of it is likely to surprise me. From the very beginning of my self made introduction to the police and the crown prosecution service, my main outrage was not for me, it was that I had been as naive as most of us who find ourselves dealing with the justice system for the first time… I really thought the law was the law.
Don’t get me wrong, I met (a lot !) of perfectly decent policemen and women in my darkest, most shameful hours, but I knew that the press would get to my house before I did. On every occasion, some little creep in that police station would have called the press, cap in hand, and made a nice little wad of cash. I just became resigned to it. Perks of the job in the Met.
But it was the first court trial that blew my mind. Right now I am trying to get together transcripts and other information. Not because it will make any difference to me. It won’t. In fact I can safely say that I am one of the few people amongst the thousands of News International’s targets to have genuinely benefitted from Murdoch’s attempts to destroy me. No, if I decide to say anything about how my first conviction came about, besides the fact that I was an idiot, it will be because I love my country, and I believe its judicial system MUST be trustworthy. And I’ll leave it at that for now. Have work to do for my lovelies.
Sorry, one last thing, I am NOT trying to exonerate myself of anything, I did something bad and got my Karmuppance, as i like to think of it. Its just that the sequence of events between my being arrested and finally convicted for sleeping pills and exhaustion seemed extremely… Well, let’s just call it… illegal. I was going to say odd, but sod it, they seemed at the very least, outside of normal legal procedure 🙂
These are only my suspicions, but I think that if they hold water, then it’s very important that they come to light for everyone’s sake. And now, I REALLY have to go to work. Thanks for listening to me rambling on boyz n girls xxx
“I have way more to tell the police than I can tweet to you here.” Oh this is fun.
Like many others, I bought the News Of The World for the last time today. Like many others, I also bought it for the first time today. Morbid curiosity. Of course this issue is hardly representative. It’s devoted to showing what a loss it is to the news publishing world.
To this end they reprint their very first front page from 1843. It sets out the paper’s stall in prose which, if you didn’t know was the real thing, you’d take for a parody of long-winded Victorian pomposity:
The general utility of all classes is the idea with which this paper originated. To give to the poorer classes of society a paper which would suit their means, and to the middle, as well as the rich, a journal, which from its immense circulation, should command their attention, have been the influencing motives that have caused the appearance of “NEWS OF THE WORLD”. We shall make no apologies for these motives, because, we conceive, that in their accomplishment we shall attain an end, that in the present state of England is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary. Journalism for the rich man, and journalism for the poor, has up to this time, been so broadly and distinctly marked, as the manners, the dress, and the habitations of the rich, are from the customs, the squalor, and the dens of the poor.
Can’t seem to decide there whether the poor are objects of pity or their market. Maybe the adverts said “Read it in the comfort of your own hovel!” And what was, with all of those, freaking, commas?
It carries on in this vein for – Christ – over three thousand constipated words. You couldn’t make it up. Hell, Dickens would have had trouble making it up. All reprinting this seems to establish is that the News Of the World was every bit as much a piece of unbearable crap 168 years ago as it was, for the last time, today.
Though presumably it was at least less criminal.
Speaking of which, Murdoch may be in even more trouble than previously thought. As the Telegraph points out, his News International is a US-based corporation, and the US has a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) outlawing bribery payments abroad. If found guilty of making payments to British police, News International may be facing fines of hundreds of millions of dollars.
It will be interesting to see how that gets reported on Fox News.
A secret so shocking that when it’s revealed in a year from now, former staff of the News of the World will turn to Rebekah Brooks and say “Thank you for firing us.”
That’s got to be something pretty bad.
I’m actually worried here, trying to think of something worse than what the NOTW has already done. They bribed the police, for God’s sake. They spied on the grieving families of soldiers and London bombing victims. They interfered with the phone of a child murder-kidnap victim, giving her parents false reason to believe she was still alive.
But this is something they’re ashamed of.
The fact that it’s not going to be revealed for another year gives it a great Seventh Secret of Fatima vibe, but why is this the case? Most likely, something they were hiding is now bound to come out in the police investigation or the trial. But if it’s bound to, why not reveal it now and end all the wild speculation? Unless of course it’s worse than our wildest speculation.
Which again, would be pretty bad.
More likely, they don’t want to reveal it now because it has a bearing on News International’s most sensitive current business in the UK – their attempted takeover of BSkyB. And as this rests wholly on the question of whether Rupert Murdoch is a fit person to own such a significant portion of the media, it follows logically that the secret is not about the News of the World or even News International, but about Murdoch himself.
What was the NOTW doing with dirt on its owner? Well in the dismissal speech she gave to the workforce, Rebekah Brooks revealed that she herself had been spied on by agents of the News of the World. Merely because she was newsworthy? Well maybe, but I have a suspicion that the operatives who were tasked with the illegal mission decided to get something on their employers too – as insurance against being disowned by them. And it seems reasonable to suppose that if they went after her, they would have gone after her boss too. Those guys got something on Rupert Murdoch.
But what? We already know that Murdoch uses his power as a wealthy media magnate to influence – arguably, to subvert – the democratic process in favour of his still greater wealth. And yet until recently it was assumed that he could still be considered a ‘fit person’ to own UK media. If that doesn’t make you unfit what do you have to do? Have sex with crocodiles, use puppies as toothpaste?
There can only be one thing. Murdoch, like many of his fellow countrymen, is instinctively opposed to the royal family. That his papers have been making them look stupid for decades was no mere commercial tactic but a determined secret campaign.