Friday, 8 July 2011

The News of the World

I have to say that have found much of the coverage of The News of the World scandal to be fantastically disingenuous. Yesterday, when it was announced the paper was to close, BBC Radio 4 news did about a 5 minute report detailing the history of the paper. The reporter told us of its original lofty Victorian intentions, its takeover by Murdoch in the 1960s, its subsequent dubious journalistic methods including entrapment of celebrities, how Max Mosely fought back in the courts and won, etc. But never was it mentioned what the most famous thing about The News of the World was, and a major, or maybe the major, contributory reason why many people (of the male sex) bought it. It was full of pictures of naked women.

So now Andy Coulson has been arrested, surprise, surprise, and David Cameron has been defending his decision to employ him as a spin doctor and to keep him on for a long time after allegations against him became widespread. One could argue for a long time about how much evidence there was at what time about the role of Coulson. In July 2009 the former editor of another Murdoch paper, The Times, Andrew Neill, said of The Guardian's revelations about phone-hacking:

It suggests that rather than being a one off journalist or rogue private investigator, it was systemic throughout the News of the World, and to a lesser extent the Sun.
Particularly in the News of the World, this was a newsroom out of control … Everyone who knows the News of the World, everybody knows this was going on. But it did no good to talk about it. One News of the World journalist said to me … it was dangerous to talk about it.
If a journalist comes to you with a great story, one of the first questions you ask is how did you get it. How you got it is relevant to judging its accuracy and preparing yourself for any legal challenge.
If this behaviour was systemic in the newsroom, why would you not know about it, why would you of all people, not know about it? Either you're incompetent or complicit.
At this stage, Cameron continued to give Coulson the benefit of the doubt. But hang on. Let's ignore the whole phone-hacking thing for a moment, which was only an accusation in July 2009, though one coming from very authoritative sources like Neill. Let's get back to the theme of "disingenuousness". Let's get back to the boobs, and all their associated apparatus, that the BBC so delicately overlooked.

What were our leading politicians, Labour and Conservative, ever doing getting into bed with, hobnobbing with, employing in their staff, having anything to do with, a bunch of women-debasing porn merchants, trivial but damaging and public debate-debasing celebrity tittle-tattle scandal mongers, and libellous, scurrilous, contemptible, shabby entrappers? Which it was always totally manifest to all that the editors of The Sun and The News of the World were? What were our politicians doing sucking-up to these miserable specimens of humanity, who any self-respecting person would have crossed the street (even a street run by TfL) to avoid ? That is the real scandal, and a bigger one than parliamentary expenses, in my opinion.


  1. 'It was 'The Sun Wot Won It' or words to that effect proclaimed, The Sun after an election victory. We live in a democracy in which a significant proportion of the electorate reads the red tops. Our esteemed leaders are wise to this and willingly get into bed with these 'news' mongers. How nice!

  2. Having a natural disinterest in celebrity scandals and celebrity shenanigans, I have never looked at a NoW, apart from noticing it in news stands. I'm glad it'll soon be gone, and I hope this whole nasty saga blows NewsCorp apart, but I'm not holding my breath.

  3. Sadly it seems to be becoming a tradition for newly minted Prime Ministers to appoint porn merchants as their spin-meisters, Coulson for Cameron, Cambell for Blair. hellbird has it right, the politicians have been running scared of the press for years. Apart from the really nasty ones who want to court them.

  4. Indeed, although I don't think Alastair Campbell's column "Busking with Bagpipes" in Penthouse magazine (?) is anything like as offensive as what goes on in Wapping.