Sunday, 10 July 2011
Why did they do it? Because you asked them to.
Well, here's my take on the whole issue.
I've heard and read a lot of what has been said and written over the last few days, and all that it has done has served to remind me how insular and self-centred the residents of 'Westminster Village' and 'Fleet Street' are.
Rupert Murdoch has no more power over the election of governments than Paul the Psychic Octopus had over the results in the last world cup.
Let's look at the evidence shall we?
It was this, plus the sight of Kinnock falling over on the beach, and his bizarre opening gambit in his Sheffield speech that saw voters stay away. As soon as this speech was made, his goose was cooked, the same was true of Howard Dean as his speech turned into a Ric Flair promo.
So for Murdoch to claim that:
Is bollocks of the highest order. They saw who was going to win and went to back them. Exactly the same happened in 1997:
If the Murdoch media machine is so powerful, then where is the front page from the day after the most recent election, trumpeting The Sun's invaluable assistance in getting a Conservative government elected? Exactly, there isn't one. The Murdoch press doesn't get governments elected, it sees which way the public are going and makes sure it backs them. The only people who seem to think that Murdoch has this power are Murdoch himself and the politicians.
On Question Time this week, it was alleged that if you didn't play ball with Murdoch, then your personal life becomes the next headline. It appears that following some questioning which Rebekah Brooks found uncomfortable, Chris Bryant was outed as gay six months later by the Murdoch press.
Meh, so what? Chris, old chap, in this day and age it really doesn't matter if you're gay or not. They may as well have said that you'd rather have ice cream with your apple crumble than custard. It doesn't matter. I agree that one's personal life should be just that, unless you are engaged in an activity that renders you unfit for public office. I will also agree that even if you are engaged in such an activity, it is wrong to obtain that information by playing 'lucky guess' with people's mobile phone PINS. However, the easy way to avoid being splashed across the papers is to not be acting like a prick. Not hammering the expenses, not screwing that comely secretary, not hiring that rent boy, they are all very easy things to do. I've managed to spend my life not doing any of them. If you've not been stupid enough to do anything like that, then they're not going to find anything if they dig around, are they?
So, we've established that Murdoch doesn't have the power of life or death over governments, and that they're only going to find out what you've done (by admittedly naughty means) if you are stupid enough to do it in the first place, and stupid enough not to ensure your IT is secure in the second place.
The management at News International have overseen this process, and have been found wanting. They are either culpable in allowing it, or incompetent in not rooting it out. As far as I'm concerned, Murdoch Jr, Brooks and the editors should all be shown the doors.
But, and here's the important bit, considerations of criminality aside, News Corp is a private company, so who they hire and fire is up to them. You, as an individual, have the ultimate sanction; and this brings me to my next point.
I'm getting so pissed off with the bleating about Murdoch's supposed vice-like grip on the UK media. Bollocks. The simple thing to do is not to consume it. No-one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read The Sun, NOTW, Times or Sunday Times. Nobody ties you to a chair and sits you in front of Sky News, if you don't like it, don't read it. I don't read the Murdoch red-tops, not through any moral objection, I just don't think they are particularly good papers. Same goes for The Times and its sister, it is as dull and pretentiously worthy as the tabloids are sensationalist and over simple. I do watch Sky News, but only because the offering from the BBC (few seem to grumble about their chokehold on broadcast media, despite the peddling of their own agenda) is so uniformly awful.
Who's fault is this? Is it the eeeeeeeevil Murdoch? No. Is it the terrible Coalition politicians? No, they are just as bad as the last government, unable to see outside their own little bubble and convinced of Murdoch's mystical powers, or more likely, worried that his worker drones know about their little swindles and peccadilloes, which they know they shouldn't indulge but just can't help themselves. Is it the Police, who it would appear wilfully disregarded evidence that this was a widespread problem, probably because they were getting so much money from it, and knew that the finger pointed at them? No.
I'll tell you who is at fault. It is you. The figures don't lie. You want to know which actress is screwing which actor, which footballer is sleeping with which glamour model. Which TV presenter spends their time powdering their nose. Which young royal is knocking about with which socialite. Which politician is screwing which secretary.
You want to know about the girl who was pretending to be poor missing Millie. You want to howl with rage at the actions which led to the death of a little boy, a little boy who is so important to you that you don't recognise his name unless he is referred to as 'little' Baby P. You want to revel in the Diana like communal pain of the death of a British soldier, you want to know what his family is feeling, dammit.
Their son is dead, how the hell do you think they feel?
You have hoovered it up, it has been nothing more to you than an episode of Eastenders. You have delighted in the tittle-tattle, rumour and insinuation. Your continued support of them has enabled this, they did it, because you asked for it, and you knew it was happening. You knew it when the Prince's mobile was hacked way back, but that was OK, because he's a royal he's not a real person and doesn't count. You knew it when the same happened to Hugh Grant, that didn't matter, because he's in the public eye, he's public property. He asked for it. You knew it when they did it to Prescott, but he's a crooked politician, so it's fair game. All of a sudden because it is poor Millie, tragic little Holly and Jessica, our brave boys in the 'stan, now you kick up a fuss? Depsite knowing this, you kept buying. Well, shame on you.
'Hang on just a minute, Wolfers.' I hear you say with indignation, 'I don't buy that paper.' Well, here's a newsflash, one that will become apparent over the weeks and months; they were all at it. This is a cut throat, ruthless, take no prisoners industry with circulations falling and advertising revenues and profit margins shrinking. Believe me, every single one of them will do anything to get their story, to make their sale.
They did it, not because they are nasty people with no morals - although that is what they are. They did it because they knew you would buy it.
Be angry with yourselves. Because whilst you've been salivating over who Jude Law is screwing, you've been distracted from the find the lady trick going on right under your nose. The real news has gone unreported, the loss of our liberties, the venality of the politicians, the nihilistic corruption in Brussels, all of it, left unwritten or relegated to page 37. But never mind, the revelation that Pippa Middleton has a nice arse? That's real news right there.