As usual, the mainstream media are reporting, not analysing and extrapolating
I hear that there is now a group at Wapping’s former NotW newsroom calling themselves The Dam Busters. I’m also fairly sure that they’ve been leaking like mad since Rebekah Brooks told them they were doomed yesterday. The Guardian has some stuff this afternoon that could only have come from them. And the only contact I’ve ever established there texted me this morning, dead keen to blurt. Both Rebekah Brooks’ staff addresses have been secretly taped by staff – si ironique! – and as I write the latest of them is playing out on BBCNews. The anger of journalists thrown to the wolves as being ‘toxic’ was pretty clear.
This is only to be expected, but we would be foolish to imagine that the octogenarian behind all this mess (and his equally unpleasant spawn) didn’t anticipate this. They have, after all, foreseen everything else: ditching the Screws, hanging Coulson out to dry, Cameron having to calm public opinion, and plugging any leaks (with massive bribes) that might appear as they went along.
Rupert Murdoch is not just any old gangster, he is that most formidable of opponents, a cultured, highly intelligent thug. But the one thing he didn’t anticipate explains why he finds it so easy to burrow like some grub into the woodwork of most political Establishments. Murdoch’s main commonality with the political class is a tendency to underestimate the intelligence and determination of the public. As most of his customers read The Sun and watch TV Premiership soccer, it’s not hard to work out why.
This presents itself in both Wapping and the Camerlot Cabinet as an assumption that people don’t care enough to get upset about very much. They’re right, of course – but like Camerlot, Newscorp UK fatally forgot what does wind people up. The Wapping Liars never imagined they’d be caught anyway, but ironically, a tabloid instinct should’ve told them that messing with kids (especially Royal kids), grief, the very vulnerable, and the Armed Forces simply won’t do. I joked with my wife last week that if Newscorp bugged a horse, she would at last get upset about the issue. But on reading the Milly Dowler revelations, for the first time since this marathon began Jan came to me and said enough was enough: these people must be lanced like a boil.
This is, on the basis of today’s press conference from the Prime Minister, a reality he still doesn’t get. His apparent disgust was rendered ersatz by a wriggling evasion of the BSkyB issue. The Dam Busters of Wapping made a nonsense of his reservations about ‘ proper channels’ within hours: not only had Newscorp lied about a loss of emails ‘on the way to Mumbai’, it’s now clear there was an attempt by at least one News International executive to destroy part of the archive as recently as last month. In January of this year, it seems, they were still busy deleting emails they claimed didn’t exist. Employees are now spilling the beans about an event that infuriated Sue Akers: the crass, panicky and public rifling of a journalist’s desk once they’d been tipped off that it was about to be raided. Operation Weeting officers talk of constant attempts by Wapping management to evade, obstruct, leak and destroy evidence at every turn. The concerted operation to ensure Tommy Sheridan went to jail is now coming to light – an episode during which Wapping legal advice may also have been corrupted.
When it has become incessantly obvious that to lie, pervert, obstruct, and corrupt at every obstacle in its path is the only culture an organisation understands, the time is long past when a national leader should be talking about rules books and procedures. I make no plea for anarchy, but rather one for plain, decent commonsense: with a stroke of his pen, the Prime Minister could doom Newscorp in the UK (and globally, given the mess it’s in) by simply communicating – though entirely proper channels – his grave reservations about it taking up the position as competitor to the BBC – still, for all its faults, the most respected organisation in the world. Within weeks, OfCom – which has already issued a statement expressing its own reservation – would have stopped the deal. We cannot expect an amoral muppet like Jeremy Hunt to grasp this imperative: but if we can’t assume it from our Prime Minister, then we are in a very sorry state indeed.
Earlier today, I posted that my conclusion from this was that there is a vicious circle of implied blackmail between Coulson, Brooks, the Murdochs, and the Prime Minister. I do not doubt that this will evoke the usual raised eyes outside the Slogger community, but I am still working on the Sherlock Holmes principle which remains a good one: in the absence of any more sensible evidence or explanation, then what remains is very probably the answer. When Nafissatou Diallo’s brother kept on and on about how holy his sister was, I suggested that this had all the makings of an extortion scam, and so it has proved. There is still an unwillingness by much of the media set to think the unthinkable about Hackgate; but the evidence that unthinkable actions have taken place in the pursuit of power and profit is now irrefutable.
The mainstream media remains tonight obsessed with the Cameron Judgment issue. For me, the question of his judgment was answered many months ago: David Cameron nearly always gets the response to the actions of himself and his ministers wrong. What we now need to find out is just how depraved the relationship between him and senior Newscorp executives might have been…in the light of his continued unwillingness to shed the Wapping Millstone around his increasingly vulnerable neck, it is the obvious way to go.