What a disgrace the Tories are. Even on the election trail two years ago, it was clear that they were sucking up to Rupert Murdoch in an even more ingratiating manner than previous parties on the verge of unseating the existing government. Moreover, it was, I contend, only public outrage — over the revelation that the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler had been hacked by News of the World reporters — which, last July, definitively prevented the government from allowing the Murdochs and News International from upping their stake in BSkyB from 39 percent to 100 percent, and becoming an unrivalled titan on the British broadcasting scene with a dangerous and undemocratic monopoly.
Last July, when the police arrested Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor who, conveniently, had subsequently become Cameron’s Chief of Communications, the scandal threatened to engulf David Cameron, and I wrote two articles, Why Would Anyone Trust David Cameron, As Police Arrest Andy Coulson? and Waiting for the Fall of David Cameron, which, I hoped, would reflect a major change in the public’s perception of the Prime Minister, and a widespread awareness of the extent of the Tories’ corruption.
That huge backlash did not emerge, however, as the public soon moved on, and Cameron survived. However, although It’s impossible to know whether political incompetence or sleaze plays the biggest role in discrediting corrupt and useless governments, it’s clear that the tide is turning against David Cameron, George Osborne, and the rest of the tired neo-liberal idiots — and Lib Dem stooges — who make up the Cabinet. Read the rest of this entry »
I was recently alerted, by my good friend Ann Alexander, to a transcript of a speech given by the legendary investigative journalist John Pilger at the “Reclaim the Media” conference, organised by NUJ activists, which took place in central London on October 26 to discuss the fallout from the phone-hacking scandal that discredited Rupert Murdoch’s media empire over the summer, and led to the demise of the News of the World.
This is timely, of course, as the phone-hacking scandal has not gone away, and, in the last few days, in advance of another appearance by James Murdoch in front of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on Thursday, News International launched a voluntary compensation scheme for victims of phone-hacking, the day after the Metropolitan police stated that the number of possible victims of News International’s phone-hacking had reached 5,795, which was nearly 2,000 more than the police estimated in July.
In October, the Guardian noted that News International was facing more than 60 new compensation claims, and it seems unlikely, therefore, that the scandal will go away, especially as it has now emerged that, for eight years, a private detective was paid by News International to follow celebrities (including Prince William), and also to follow lawyers (those working for Milly Dowler’s family, who were followed last year and this year) and politicians (including cabinet ministers, and Tom Watson MP, who has made it his mission to expose News International’s wrongdoing).
However, Ann alerted me to the article because she was thinking about me, in a very kind manner, and picked up on a section of Pilger’s speech in which he spoke about a Ministry of Defence document released by WikiLeaks, which stated that there were “three main threats to the ministry’s view of the world” — namely, “Russian spies, terrorists, and by far the greatest threat — independent investigative journalists,” and she was thinking about my investigative work, primarily in connection with Guantánamo. Read the rest of this entry »
So here’s the moment that Rupert Murdoch was attacked with a pie (a plate of shaving foam) during his appearance at the House of Commons Culture Select Committee today, with his son James (photo via Twitter — click to enlarge). It was, to my mind, the only exciting moment in a frustrating day in which the elder Murdoch, who is now 80 years old, began by appearing — or genuinely being — bewildered, and out of touch with the running of his vast media empire, while, throughout, his son James appeared thoroughly cold and unmoved, even when apologizing for the activities of the News of the World‘s phone-hackers.
I have no idea whether Rupert Murdoch’s confused state was genuine or feigned, although it was noticeable that he gained composure as the hearing wore on, and began showing signs of his evident charisma. In the beginning, however, he either honestly confessed that he wasn’t really on top of the activities of his organization, or he produced a winning theatrical performance.
His blurted apology early on, interrupting his son to say, “This is the most humble day of my life,” was obviously aimed at the headlines, but it was horribly clumsy. As the Guardian‘s Julian Glover asked on Twitter, “Can someone who’s worked with Rupert in private tell us if he is always like this? Or is it just for special moments of public catastrophe?” Glover’s colleague Dan Sabbagh asked whether it would backfire on Murdoch Sr. when it came to the opinions of shareholders (in America in particular) about his ability to remain in charge of his company. “The great old man of newspapers looked hopelessly out of touch,” he said. “Who knows what a News Corp[oration] shareholder would have thought?” Read the rest of this entry »
It was odd, yesterday evening, to be watching the former News of the World journalist Sean Hoare discussing the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal in the BBC Panorama programme, “Murdoch: Breaking the Spell?,” on the day that he was found dead at his home in Watford. He was 47 years old.
The footage was from a programme first broadcast in March, “Tabloid Hacks Exposed,” and Sean Hoare, the News of the World‘s former showbusiness correspondent, was a hugely important presence in the programme, as it was he who had first spoken out about the “endemic” culture of phone-hacking at the News of the World for a New York Times investigation last September, when he had also stated that Andy Coulson, who, at the time, was David Cameron’s Director of Communications, had been deeply involved in phone-hacking, even though he was on record as claiming that he knew nothing about it.
The New York Times stated that Hoare, “a former reporter and onetime close friend of Coulson’s,” said that he had discussed hacking with Coulson:
The two men first worked together at the Sun, where, Hoare said, he played tape recordings of hacked messages for Coulson. At News of the World, Hoare said he continued to inform Coulson of his pursuits. Coulson “actively encouraged me to do it,” Hoare said. Read the rest of this entry »
As the heads continue to roll in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal — with Rebekah Brooks (the CEO of News International) and Les Hinton (the CEO of Dow Jones) both resigning from Murdoch’s fast-crumbling media empire, and Sir Paul Stephenson and his deputy John Yates from the embattled Metropolitan Police, just one of the three parties deeply implicated in this affair — the government itself — has so far refused to accept the implications of its deep involvement in the crooked behaviour of the News of the World and its parent company, News International.
This is all the more remarkable given David Cameron’s close relationship with not one but two editors of the News of the World, who were both in charge when the worst of the hacking took place — Rebekah Brooks, married to his close friend, the racehorse trainer (and former Etonian) Charlie Brooks, and Andy Coulson, who, of course, was the Prime Minister’s Director of Communications until January this year, Both Coulson and Brooks have, of course, spent time in police custody in the last week and a half.
In his desire not to be contaminated by his connections, David Cameron has been resorting to increasingly desperate behaviour, publicly abandoning Coulson, and generally denouncing the whole of Murdoch’s media empire as though he had not employed Coulson, and had not been close friends with Brooks. Read the rest of this entry »
Now that the News of the World phone-hacking scandal has finally secured a major scalp — the News of the World itself, closing on Sunday after 168 years in business — it remains to be seen whether the sacrifice of the paper, and of 200 jobs, will be sufficient to prevent the growing scandal from doing further damage to the News of the World‘s proprietor, the media empire of Rupert Murdoch.
Just as significantly, it remains to be seen whether Prime Minister David Cameron can avoid being fatally contaminated by his close association with Andy Coulson, the former News of the World editor, arrested today in connection with the scandal. Coulson, of course, served as the Conservative Party’s Chief of Communications from July 2007 and then as David Cameron’s personal Chief of Communications from May last year until his resignation in January this year.
Although the scandal first emerged in 2005, in connection with the hacking of phones owned by members of the Royal Family, it took until this week for the public to become sufficiently outraged to ensure that serious action would be taken, beyond the limited action taken in 2007, when the News of the World‘s royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were jailed for their role in hacking the Royal Family’s phones. Read the rest of this entry »
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