That’s enough frigging Murdoch, let’s get back to reality. I finished repacking all the stuff in the attic! Or almost anyway. The boxes are upstairs, they’re just in the way of where I sleep. Which is not helpful, because I need sleep quite badly now. That’s probably why I’m having all these realisations. I finally realise the truth about snakes for example. Haven’t you? Snakes are land animals that evolved from fish… back into fish. Develop legs, climb out of water, lose legs again. Crazy. So from now on, I’m going to refer to all snakes as “landfish”. People will know what I mean.
Another thing. We have words for societies that are ruled by the rich, that are ruled by the best, by the mob, even a word for societies that are ruled by the worst. But there isn’t a word for rule by the most ruthless. How come?
And then I realised. There used to be, but all copies of that dictionary were burned and the lexicographers and their families shot.
This next story has the virtue of being true. A friend of mine came across the bizarre case of someone who was arrested for burning his own underwear. She wondered if that was arson.
Of course it is, I said. He set his arse on fire.
All right, I think I’m tired enough to sleep on the boxes now.
The end of an extraordinary day, says the TV man. Did anyone else think so? To me it seemed a let-down; predictable, unchallenging, frequently tedious.
What we were watching was, as reader jonolan put it, theatre. And not even good theatre, unless you count the intervention by the pieman – that at least was unpredictable. Otherwise its sole moment of flair was Assistant Commissioner John Yates’ surrealistic claim to be a postbox.
The prince came across more like a villain, and it was the king who vacillated. He wanted to apologise as profusely and humbly as possible – yet he wouldn’t accept the blame. Such inconsistency in a character strains credulity.
The best you can say for the production is that it was well rehearsed. The Murdochs delivered their lines effectively enough: News Corp is a highly ethical organisation, the News Of The World a completely inexplicable and isolated aberration. It was at least a daring conceit. And memorable – though mainly because they kept saying it at every opportunity.
Then in the last act a whole new theme was introduced. The News Of The World was revealed by Rebekah Brooks to be a crusading journal, focused only on protecting children and the rights of soldiers, a paragon of what newspapers should be. But the transformation hadn’t been justified by anything that had gone before, so it lacked conviction.
That’s what this show needs more of. Conviction. Preferably several.
Well, play suspended. Wonder what the member of the audience hoped to achieve there.
Then, I wonder what anyone was trying to achieve. The committee investigation was too unfocused to do anything of much use. They kept slipping and allowing the Murdochs to reiterate their “We’re sorry, we’re nice really, forgive us” message. Rupert even buttered them up by suggesting that MPs should be paid a million each. Now he’s getting to tell them some of his life story.
I don’t believe they didn’t know perfectly well that some of their papers used illegal techniques to get stories – even if they managed to remain carefully uninformed about who and where and when. But they’ve managed to say the opposite so many times, it’s bound to influence perception. Really, the MPs let them use this as a press conference.
But perhaps the weak questioning is a clever tactic. Once he’s off the back foot and feeling confident again, James Murdoch sounds like a supervillain.
Now the questioner is thanking Rupert for being more helpful than James, which is surely going to make Rupert less helpful again. But it does appear that Rupert knows quite a deal about the workings of News International, making it seem like his vagueness on detail earlier was really reticence.
But now James has the helm again, and has another opening to explain how sorry they are, and how nice they will be to their former employees who didn’t get caught.
Hmm. They’ve actually gotten a commitment out of Rupert to cease paying the legal fees of Mulcaire (the investigator they paid to hack) – if they’re not obliged to do so by contract. It will be interesting to see where that goes.
James Murdoch apologises. He’s not addressing the committee, he’s addressing the shareholders.
“This is the most humble day of my life” – Rupert Murdoch. Yes, but what’s the scale?
By saying he cannot say who was involved in the phone hacking because of ongoing investigations, James Murdoch seems to implicate Rebekah Brooks.
Monosyllabic answers from Murdoch Senior. He denies knowing who lied to him. This may still be true if no one lied to him. But he is denying any knowledge of anything awkward in his UK operation – indeed, virtually any knowledge of how News International was run. Either you don’t believe that – and it is hard to believe – or you have to accept that the guy in charge is no longer really in control.
I can actually hear News Corporation’s share price falling.