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.
They’re not letting Tom Watson at him again. He was the only one who managed to put pressure on the Murdochs. Now they’re being let do their prepared statement stuff once more. It’s nearly a free commercial for them.
Funny – Murdoch seemed to really perk up after the attack. I guess the adrenalin did him the power of good.
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.
Some of these questioners seem very amateurish and unfocused. Not surprising I suppose – it’s an investigation designed by a committee. But do they really have two of the world’s most influential men here to ask them about the day-to-day running of newspapers? It’s like they’re taking advantage of the situation to ask things they’d always wondered, and it’s giving the Murdochs opportunities to paint themselves in brighter colours.
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.
Time for a little liveblogging I think… Just watching the UK parliament’s select committee hearing (video feed) into the phone hacking affair. The Murdochs will be on later, though at the moment it’s Sir Paul Stevenson, the freshly-resigned head of London’s Metropolitan police.
First though, I want to remark on the fact that more than one News International journalist I’ve heard seems to be of the opinion that if you take any money from Rupert Murdoch – even appear in a 20th Century Fox film – then you are fair game. He has the right to do with you as he pleases. It’s as if they think they work for Satan.
Paul Stevenson is a funny bird, wearing what looks like the Dalek Prime version of police uniform, yet unworldly and even slightly fumbling in manner. Hard to imagine him as the top policeman of all London.
He says that he was satisfied with the Metropolitan Police’s original phone hacking investigation, which found no wrongdoing; sufficiently satisfied that he saw no problem with ten of the Met’s media staff being former News Of The World employees. Yet he also states that the never knew the actual parameters of that investigation.
Funny how it doesn’t seem to be in the news this morning, but last night all the websites of Murdoch’s UK newspapers were brought down. The Sun’s by LulzSec, the fun-loving hacker network – they switched it to a fake version that announced Rupert Murdoch’s death – the rest probably pulled by News International itself in a somewhat desperate effort to protect them.
I like the humorous anarchy of LulzSec and their ilk, but I fear an organisation as media-canny as News Corporation will be able to turn this to their own advantage. You want to make Rupert Murdoch look like a victim, you attack him with something even more feared and poorly-understood than himself. Interweb hackers, that can do all sorts of mysterious and dangerous things. Things that are – sharp intake of breath – bad for business. Bring down a Murdoch website, and you give him a chance to portray himself as a champion of free speech. Which would be ironic in any number of ways, not least because most of Murdoch’s websites were not free.
Meanwhile, rumours fly that Murdoch is about to be deposed as head of News Corporation.
Meanwhile, perhaps even as you’re reading this (video feed), Murdoch and other heads of News International will be giving evidence before an investigating committee of the UK parliament. They didn’t want to much.
Meanwhile, the next domino in the Metropolitan Police has fallen: Assistant commissioner John Yates, the UK’s leading terrorism officer.
Meanwhile, the whistleblower who originally broke the phone hacking story has been found dead. The police say it’s not suspicious, but… The police say it’s not suspicious.
So thanks for the lulz, LulzSec. But it looks like things are already way beyond that.