Following the closure of the Screws, a nasty reactionary streak is emerging from that part of the Fourth Estate that may also have been indulging in the “dark arts”, and therefore has most to fear from the continuing investigation into the dealings not only of Glenn Mulcaire, but the other practitioners of those arts.
The reaction from the toadying part of the Murdoch press has been all too predictable: blame the BBC, the Guardian, and Mil The Younger. This is the line taken by Trevor Kavanagh, who by his own admission has taken the Murdoch shilling for a full forty years, and is not about to dissent and prejudice his senior citizen’s beer money fund.
But the place to see a broader front of backlash gathering pace is at the Daily Mail, and with good cause: the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre were reckoned to be in the same league of “dark arts” consumption as the Super Soaraway Currant Bun and the Screws. It would be entirely logical for Operation Weeting to end up with Dacre getting his collar felt by the Met’s finest.
So, although I’m sure it’s a complete coincidence, the Dacre smear machine has opened up today on any well known figure who has had the temerity to pass adverse comment on the cheaper end of the Fourth Estate. While the Mail is milking the clear distress of the Dowler family, hack Beth Hale lays into Steve Coogan, whose appearance on Newsnight has gone across the pond.
Hale peddles the line that Coogan’s past private life somehow disenfranchises him from offering his opinion, a line that she also uses on Hugh Grant. The thought that the Screws was having a victim of abduction and murder, the families of two murdered 10 year olds, and those close to a number of dead servicemen targeted is not allowed to enter (and in this, she is on the same page as Kavanagh).
Just to rub it in, the Mail has also got “Mad” Melanie Phillips to give Coogan and Grant a good kicking – with Max Mosley thrown in. Mel tells that these three “pose as our new moral arbiters”. No they don’t. They’re just three blokes who have had their privacy – that’s the same thing that Glenn Mulcaire now wants for his family – invaded just so the Screws can indulge in a bit of sleb gossip.
And it’s a bit rich coming from someone whose journalistic standards are so lame that she’s just been binned by the Spectator after dumping the mag with a £70,000 plus legal bill after casually libelling Alastair Crooke.
But it’s probably only a taster of what’s to come. Brace yourselves for more smears.