Saturday, July 11, 2009

Murdoch, Power and selective scandals

A veil of silence has descended on the phone-tapping scandal.

Do you still believe that a nation's priorities are not artificially dictated by the press?

Take how the recent MP expenses mega-scandal monopolised every single front page for a whole month. Compare that with the speed with which the recent News International phone-hacking revelations are being swept under the carpet.

Armed with evidence, the Guardian lifted the lid on the tabloid culture of phone hacking, hefty sums paid to keep people quiet, private investigators hired to do the dirty work, and possible police and Crown Prosecution Service connivance. Cases previously denied are now coming out one after the other (like the one of PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor and now Jo Armstrong).

Still, very little interest. Like today's Guardian editorial points out:

"Try this scenario: a prominent private company or public agency - say, the police, or security services - has paid a seven-figure sum to hush up evidence of its own criminal activities. It has furthermore persuaded a judge to seal the court papers so that the deal will never see the light of day. Is there an editor in Britain who would not seize on that story and pursue it with a righteous vengeance? Of course not. How, as an industry, could we command any public respect if we suppressed such a story when it related to our own trade?"

Trouble is, the people that matter are terrified of taking on the immensely powerful Rupert Murdoch. In spite of all the ingredients for one of the biggest scandals of this decade being there, the feeding tubes are being disconnected fast and the story is already dying a quick death.

Now, obviously no-one expected the Murdoch press (that is the best selling papers in the country) to talk about it much, but how about those normally so quick at shouting "SCANDAL!"? The Daily Mail is barely tiptoeing about, just in case they end up with a similar story splattered all over their faces. And while the Express are clearly not into it and the Mirror lost their gnashers a long time ago, even the BBC, after some initial interest, has already relegated the case behind "Happy Birthday Big Ben".

The Telegraph, who just wouldn't let go on parliamentary expenses, is only marginally mentioning a confrontation between David Cameron and Charles Clarke, therefore quarantining the story within the graveyard of party politics. More, Deborah Orr's take on the story may be spot-on, but as far as the Independent is concerned, their biggest reference is former Sun editor and current News International chief executive Rebekah Wade's statement that the accusations are "irresponsible".

Throw in the fact that the police took less than half a day to confidently rule out further investigations and it's quite clear that Great Britain's journalistic dark arts are here for the long haul. Like Sunny Hundal wrote yesterday on Liberal Conspiracy, this has already become "the phone-hacking scandal that no-one wants to talk about".


thepatriot said...

It's because this is so obviously politically motivated. Andy Coulson is on the Tory side, which is why you got Labour veterans like Prezza or Clarke weighing in on the case.
The agenda is clear. Hence the lack of interest.

Anita said...

Our mate up here obviously couldn't care less about issues of honest reporting, corruption and money handed to people in exchange for silence.

Those Labour veterans enjoyed Murdoch's support for a whole decade too, so this is an issue that stretches well beyond Labour and Tory. If he was a true patriot, he'd be very worried that the political agenda in the UK is determined by an Australian tycoon!

thepatriot said...

As usual, conspiracies explain everything, dont they?
This is simply a non-story. End of.