As Phonehackgate rumbles on, the revelations and arrests keep coming: we now know that the number of victims is likely to be far greater than the previously touted figure of 91. And a senior reporter at the Screws has been arrested, then questioned and released on police bail. As with the others, his house has been searched.
Yet, despite the clear disproval of the “non story” claims, the right leaning part of the Fourth Estate keeps throwing out commentary trying to claim that the affair is unimportant, that the law is somehow being misused, that the police should not be distracted from supposedly more important duties, and time and again painting it as a left versus right contest, rather than acts of forthright criminality.
Yesterday, two opinion pieces from rather differently styled sources pushed their own critiques of the investigation. Brendan O’Neill in his Maily Telegraph blog, and Richard Littlejohn in his routinely tedious Daily Mail column, were agreed on the right versus left, and police having better things to do angles. And both were talking the most blatant and badly reasoned drivel.
O’Neill sees “widespread cheering” in “sections of the liberal press” at the use of a law he denounces as “authoritarian”, although he fails to say whether (a) he favours selective disobedience of laws he or anyone else doesn’t like, (b) if he is saying that phone hacking is therefore OK, or (c) why reporting a series of alleged crimes is “putting one over on a rival media outlet” [a more comprehensive fisk of O’Neill’s drivelfest has been undertaken HERE].
Littlejohn, as might be expected, makes even less sense. Fat Dick suggests that WikiLeaks has a body count (it doesn’t), that Yates of the Yard came “whisker close” to “nailing” Labour over “cash for honours” (he’s guessing), that the police officers on this case have been “pulled off rape, robbery and murder cases” (guessing again – nice try at a zero sum game, though), and asserts that London “is in the grip of gun crime” (guessing once more – he won’t have bothered to check any figures).
One wonders how many more victims of phone hacking have to come forward and take action against Rupe’s troops before the likes of O’Neill and Littlejohn cease trying to suggest that this is anything other than the proper investigation of alleged criminality. One thing both may bear in mind is that it will take no more than a pair of matching statements to see the arrest of yet more serving and former News International hacks.And one of those hacks could be Andy Coulson. If that happens – or maybe that should be when – Littlejohn might consider amending his assertion that “this isn’t Watergate”. It’s not finished yet.