Yesterday, broadcaster and publisher Iain Dale mused “So, Murdoch threatens to close Sky News if his deal isn’t green lighted … Three words … Call … His … Bluff”. What he may not have known is that the moment of bluff calling may be approaching rather faster than could ever have been imagined, after an anonymous former employee of what was then News International gave evidence to the Government on the Sky bid.
Put directly, what that witness said was dynamite - not just for the Murdochs’ attempt to secure the 61% of Sky that they do not yet own, but also their newspaper interests in the UK and elsewhere, and even the security services. Because the evidence given points to the use of the Murdoch press, with management’s full knowledge and cooperation, as a part of MI5’s disinformation and propaganda machine.
Here’s some of what was volunteered: “During the period News of the World operated Rupert Murdoch took a direct, personal interest in that newspaper, looking at key news stories especially political ones. He personally authorised a number of payments for politically oriented ‘news’ and checked all payments over £100,000 in later years”. That is a mere hors d’oeuvre, though, for a much tastier entrée.
Because there is more. “There was a direct link between M15 and the NOW editor, allowing that agency to drop off tips that, ultimately, were used for political blackmail. The sudden closure of NOW had two hidden objectives. First to conceal the scale of political surveillance by the paper, and the de jure blackmail operated by the paper. Secondly, to conceal the link with the Security Services and the Whips Offices in Parliament”.
When was the late and not at all lamented Screws closed? In 2011. Remember all those clowns who tried to blame it on the Guardian? Who claimed that any use by the Screws of dirty tricks was merely the sign of tinfoil hat conspiracists? What are they saying right now? How about they are saying nothing. Zip. Zilch. Not a sausage. Bugger all.
And they’ll carry on saying bugger all after the next and even more explosive comment: “Between 2009 and the closure of the paper extensive ‘weeding’ was undertaken in order to eliminate signs of blackmail, especially in relation to political stories”. That sounds very much like the deliberate destruction of evidence - which has long been suspected.
Then comes the equally damaging sign-off: “Rupert Murdoch’s personal interest in his UK media is political, not journalistic. This is evidenced by both the way he handled the NOW in particular but also in the news agenda of the Sun, Times and Sunday Times. All run a right wing agenda but more profoundly all ignore, most of the time, stories that might expose this bias and which might damage or embarrass parties Murdoch is supporting in Government”. As this blog has said time and again - selective reporting.
And reporting by omission - another way of loading the deck in the favour of whoever is doing the bidding of the staff. So right now the Murdochs' ambitions are in tatters, and on top of that, the manipulation of our free and fearless press by the security agencies is revealed for all to see. It wasn’t just about hard drives at the Guardian offices.
Be careful what you wish for, Iain Dale. You might just get it - sooner rather than later.